Today is a day of remembrance for the women who fought for my rights, and who are still doing so for women around the world. It is because of this holiday that I have been reflecting on the impact of feminism in my life.
For the first 17 years, or so, I didn’t fully comprehend the idea of generational feminism. But it was when I really started talking to other women about their experiences that I learned just how privileged my life had been.
I grew up with a single mom who took care of me and my older brother. Thanks to this, I had a close relationship with my grandparents and uncles. All of whom are most definitely feminists, even if they don’t call themselves that.
Unlike many women who I’ve met and talked to, I wasn’t raised to be quiet. I wasn’t raised to focus on being pretty. I wasn’t raised to be a “proper lady.” I was raised to give respect where respect was due, to take care of myself, and more than anything, I was raised to take no shit.
I’ll never forget the day that I realized what impact being raised by my single mother had had on my life.
Here’s to Strong Women:
I sat in the little red truck with my dad as we headed down a dusty highway. He had, quite politely, drove me to interview this gentleman who was known nationwide for his trek across the U.S. dragging a handcart.
And before you start assuming, no respect was garnered for either man in this adventure.
The man had talked for nearly an hour about his beliefs about why the world was the way it was. He was a victim of Hurricane Katrina who had lost everything in the storm. But regardless of his experiences he was the epitome of the white male, deep south mindset.
He refused to shake my hand until he had shaken my dad’s. And ranted for 30 minutes of that hour about how women working was the reason that families were falling apart and kids were becoming more and more horrible. I deleted his interview footage when I got home.
On the way home from the interview I expressed my frustration at this man’s views to my dad, who quite quickly explained to me how the man was right, and also how kids raised by single mothers were typically worse off and had major problems.
At that point I had been raised by a single mother for 17 years and saw my dad for a cumulation of 1,086 days (+/- a few days) of those 17 years. That’s about 3 years in total, a little less actually.
May We Know Them:
The women in my family are well known for their “take no shit” mindset, and thanks to that presentation, they have also been presented the nicknames, “battle ax” and “dragon lady”, and are often said to have “forked tongues.”
I was blessed to have a strong, easily followed, genealogical line of feminists women who ran households in a matriarchal style. I guess you could say this line of my family are the Mayfair witches of Utah. Barring the cool surname reaching through the centuries.
May We Be Them:
It’s only taken 22 years of watching my mother beat expectations, raise good kids, build a career without a college degree to have a clear understanding of what strength means. I can thank her perseverance through struggles for my strength and successes.
Because without watching her I might never have learned just how much a woman can do.
Any struggle I’ve had with self-doubt was caused by insecurities created later in life due to other circumstances. But quick reminders of what she had to go through to get where she is reminds me what I can, and have built with this strength.
I was raised with a fearless attitude when it came to chasing dreams, working hard, and dealing with others.
And while it continually causes conflict with people, this attitude has never caused personal failures. Rather, it has led me to success in all the dreams I had as a child.
I graduated from high school with an associates degree. Because I was taught that a willingness to work can set you up well.
I moved to Europe alone on an exchange program. Because I was taught that there was nowhere that I shouldn’t see as home.
I graduated with my bachelors in journalism early. Because I was taught that the world will try to slow progress, but it’s not up to the world how your life turns out.
I’m working as a writer, and building a career as a journalist, because I was taught that there is no challenge too hard to beat.
May We Raise Them:
I have no intention to have children. So all my lessons, efforts, and strengths I intend to put into writing. Because there is no woman who should have to grow up in a world that teaches her she can only do certain jobs. Or that she should never chase certain dreams.
I’ve been blessed with the ability to fearlessly express myself in any instance. Even about embarrassing or hard topics.
So while I may never have the opportunity to raise a strong woman, I might have the ability to teach women who don’t have the right influences just how strong they are.
Thanks for reading my rant!