Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Five Things Feminism Has Done For Me

Zuzu has tagged me to share Five Things Feminism Has Done For Me!

First, let me say it's kind of nice to know others actually read my blog. (And thanks to all the recent commenters, too!)

Second, this is an excellent meme. It made me think about why I actually call myself a feminist. I mean, beyond the obvious. Thinking about what my life would be like without these things was a little frightening and humbling.

I'll try to do this without any is-ought problems. Here goes.

1. I can get an education without joining a convent. This is a big one for me. Curiosity about the world, be it regarding science, history, other cultures, what have you is so intrinsic to my sense of self that I don't know what I'd do without the opportunity to go to university. Likewise, my husband, my family, my daughter, my friends are all of utmost importance. I can't imagine what my life would be like without those relationships. Having Feminism in the world means that I don't have to choose between having a "normal" (to get all heteronormative for a moment) life and scholarship.

2. I can get married and have children without fear. Having Feminism in the world means that I entered into my marriage contract as an equal (well, some would say relatively equal but for the purpose of brevity...) partner with my husband. I can enjoy the good parts of being married without worrying that I won't be able to get to a safe place in a domestic violence situation (not that I'm worried, Brian!), or that my husband will be able to get away with leaving me destitute. Also, I'm free to enjoy a baby, knowing that I can have as few or as many children as I want and that I don't ever have to be pregnant if I don't want to be.

Seriously, my maternal grandmother had 13 babies and 7 miscarriages.

Holy crap. The poor woman must have been constantly pregnant for like 20 years.

Also, I can enjoy being married with a baby without having to worry that I'll have to give up any pursuit I find intellectually fulfilling, be it my education or my career or what have you. And I can be comfortable knowing that if I end up making more money than my husband (which I have, in the past...)it won't be an issue.

3. I can call bullshit when I see it. And be as snarky as I want to be! And it's fun!

For example, with Feminism I have the power to tell my mother that she will not pass her body-issue problems on to my daughter. I won't let it happen. And with Feminism I can tell my father that the Cuban machismo bullshit stops right here, my daughter will not be treated any differently than any of her boy cousins. And I can go all Betty Friedan on my husband until he helps out around the house, god dammit.

Cycles broken, end of story. Feminism lets me put my foot down.

4. I can vote! Honestly, I sometimes have a hard time wrapping my mind around how recent it was that women were given the right to vote. It was only in 1920.

19-freaking-20! Not even 100 years ago! There are women alive today that didn't have the right to vote when they were born!

The Emancipation Proclamation was written 57 years before women were given the right to vote! Hell, what puts it in perspective for me is that movies, projected movies with famous celebrities in them and everything, have been around longer than women have had the right to vote.

Without Feminism (and yes, I'd say it was already Feminism back then,) I would have no voice (well, the small amount of voice the Electoral College gives you, but again, brevity...) in my government. And that really chaps my hide. In fact, it's probably lucky I wasn't born before 1920, because I'm telling you, the Guy Fawkes masks would have been in the mail, that's for damn sure.

5. I can hope (and fear) for my daughter's future. The hoping part is obvious, I guess. I have all these little daydreams about taking my daughter to the zoo and teaching her about taxonomy and cladistics (okay...geek!) or going stargazing and teaching her about astronomy. I dream of her strong and healthy and (of course) a genius with good taste in music and movies. I don't have to frame any of those dreams in terms of her marrying a man or having babies (not that there's anything wrong with that). But when I think of her future I am free to think only of her.

Also, as a quick add to that, I have absolutely no anxiety about her getting married and "giving me" grandchildren, which was a huge pressure I felt from my family (thank you, Cuban machismo...). If she does marry a man, or if she marries a woman (because in the future they will have same-sex marriage. And jetpacks and flying cars.) or if she never gets married or whatever, I don't care.

But what about that 'fear' in there? How is that a positive thing? Well, without the changes Feminism has made, I wouldn't fear things like the South Dakota abortion ban, or the horrible state of sex education in public schools. They'd be par for the course and no big deal. I'm glad that Feminism makes me worry about things sliding down the slippery slope. My daughter will never be a handmaid, nor will her daughter, or her daughter's daughters!

Well, there it is. Now I tag:

John Goff
J.S. Macgruder
and Veronica.

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