I am what, for many of you, is your worst nightmare – a feminist. I was a feminist before it had a name and a feminist after it became a label. I represent every girl who was told she “couldn’t” take shop in high school because of her gender, who was “discouraged” from studying engineering in college because of her gender, who was told my her math professor that she should be home taking care of babies, who needed her husband’s signature to get a business loan for her own business, who’s opinions were dismissed because she was female, who had customers ask to speak to one of the salesmen because it never crossed their minds that a woman knew more about a typically male business than any of the men in the company.
So, the cat’s out of the bag. I’m a feminist. What does that mean? Well, for me, it means being seen as a human being first and foremost. I love being a woman, have never wanted to be a man, I don’t want to compete with you strictly because of gender but in spite of it and in competitive arenas only. I want my opinions to be evaluated on the basis of their intellect and not dismissed because my body grew breasts at puberty. If you open the door for me, I’ll say thank you and expect the same from you when I open the door for you. I don’t expect you to defer to me because I am female because I won’t defer to you strictly because you are male. I will gladly accept your help when my old body isn’t strong enough to do something myself but I’ll put my full effort into taking care of myself before asking for help. I’m not offended by images of naked women, just a little jealous of their youth and beauty because they are always young and beautiful. Heck, at times, I like to see images of good looking guys (that is God’s plan after all). The difference is, I like the guys a little older than I did when I was in my 20’s. I like to see a little character in their faces, a little living on their bodies, and a little humor in their eyes. I like to see hands that have know hard work and have a little dirt under the nails to prove it. I can only hope that men value the same in me. You’ll have to forgive me if I get a little testy when I am reminded that most often it isn’t so.
I believe that when families decide to have a child, they should do their best to see that either the mother or father will be there to raise that child and avoid routine daycare whenever possible. I think that caring for our children is more important than that second car or the new dining room set. In my opinion, a big house and lots of ‘toys’ don’t equal quality of life when raising a child.
I’m a feminist, a conservative, a woman of a certain age with gray hair and eyes that don’t see as well as they used to and I can still laugh at myself for all that I am and all that I’m not.
But don’t let any of that fool you. I am an old warrior who will continue to fight, until my life is over, so that my daughter, my granddaughters, and your daughters, and wives, and sisters, and female friends have the opportunity to prove themselves in this world.
When you attribute our responses strictly to our hormones, you are saying that you value what we look like, particularly when we are naked, but not what we think or what we feel. I admit that our hormones do strange things to us, the same as your hormones do to you. It’d all part of this glorious adventure known as life.
And when the women in your life come home and tell you they have decided to be an engineer, or a soldier or a sailor, or a ship’s captain, or a police officer, or a fireman, a hairdresser, a fashion designer, a business woman, or a homemaker and a mother, look around for old warriors like me and thank them for never giving up.