Hello! Happy November! How time flies! As we move into a new month, a new beginning, I’ve decided to start writing these pieces about feminism that I’ve been waiting to write and wanting to write for some time now. When I started this blog I always knew that this was the direction I wanted it to take, in the beginning I knew that we had to establish a reading base and I believe that we have now established an incredible one. A mixture of friends, friends of friends, mothers, aunts, distant family members, grandmothers, boyfriends, male friends, fathers, brothers and strangers who happen upon our sacred space. You may wonder what this has to do with anything, let me tell you that it means everything. When you have women coming together and appreciating each other and their success, it means progress. When you have men reaching out and appreciating the success of women, it means progress. Now, you may be asking why there needs to be progress, why women appreciating women and men appreciating women really means anything, why this should even be an important topic of conversation, well over time I will answer all of these questions. But firstly, let’s start with the biggest question of all, what exactly is feminism? And how does it impact you and your life? For those of you who don’t know what feminism is (let’s face it, it’s a trendy topic right now, and rightfully so, but I will enlighten those of you who don’t keep up with current events), feminism is a movement that has been going on for a really long time (we’re talking 16th century) but really got recognition in the 60’s when women fought for the right to vote, to be seen, to be heard, to be treated as human as anybody else. With the upcoming US elections it’s become a hot topic once more, and with the UN Women starting the He for She campaign with Emma Watson at the forefront, feminism has continued to be an important point of conversation. Feminism isn’t complicated, it’s not something that requires a PhD to understand and it’s not a movement with the goal of bringing down men, which always seems to be the argument of choice against feminism. It’s simply about raising women up to the same level as men, where we are treated rightfully as equals. It’s not about tearing men down but lifting them up to a place where they can understand that we are all the same, yes, we may have different genitals but at our most basic, biological level we are all human. Thus, whether you are a man or a woman or transgender you deserve to be treated with equal amounts of respect and dignity. Now, you may ask what the hell does this have to do with me and my life? Well, I ask you this, where would you be without the women in your life? Without your mothers, your grandmothers, your great-great-grandmothers? The answer is, you wouldn’t Be. You wouldn’t exist without the women in your life. Just like you wouldn’t exist without the men in your life. You require both, equally, to exist. That is why feminism should always be a part of your life. To have an appreciation for the things the women in your life have done for you. Moreover, to have an appreciation and respect for human life, period. Now that we have established a very basic and general understanding of what feminism is I want to start this series of posts with a discussion on one of the most important relationships in a woman’s life, the relationship with her mother. You may not know it, but this dynamic and relationship shapes the way you see yourself, the way the world sees you and how you see the world.
Let me begin by telling you my story and journey to feminine enlightenment, it’s not a complicated one, it’s fairly simple actually and came from a very naive place. I will be honest, I didn’t know much about feminism until about 2 years ago, which is when the movement towards it started to pick up again. I always subconsciously knew, even as a child which sounds strange, that I wanted to be a strong, independent female that was treated equal to the boys she played with. I always demanded to be treated equally when we played sports or video games. I wanted to be on the boys teams because I felt my skill was equal to theirs and I wouldn’t take no for an answer. I was always the type to boycott stereotypes of how a young female should behave and look, up until high school. When I got into high school, I did the typical/stereotypical high school thing and assimilated myself to the current trends in order to fit in. It’s something every teenager does to feel like they belong. But it always felt wrong to me because it went against everything I thought I believed in. I started presenting myself to the world in a manner that would appease the girls and attract the boys. I started listening to society’s definitions of what a young girl should look like and act like. I started to feel like I was trapped in this transparent glass box, like a Barbie doll in a box, presented to society as society expected me to be seen. I remember sitting in my room at night just feeling so uncomfortable in my skin because I wasn’t being who I was nor was I attempting to be who I wanted to be. I gave into social and stereotypical conventions of how young girls should be. Now, you may say well this is how it is, this is how life has always been for young girls. There are expectations placed on us, that is how it’s always been and you can’t expect it to be any different. There are boxes you must check as a female in order to be seen as human in the world’s eye. The truth is, I refuse to accept that. Now, that I’ve come to understand what feminism is, that it’s not about reducing men to dust or shoving my ideas in people’s faces, it’s about demanding gently, but still demanding to be treated equally and to be given the right and the respect to decide how I want to present myself to the world. It’s my basic right as a human being, regardless of whether I am a female or a male, quite frankly it’s irrelevant what sex I am because at my most basic roots, I am a human being and deserve to be treated and respected as such. When I finally came to realize that, it was like a weight being lifted off my shoulders and the curtains being pulled away from my eyes, I had given myself permission to be who I was. To be a strong, independent woman who has the right to choose how she wants to be seen and heard. That I have the choice to not check those boxes, to refuse to give into society’s expectations of who and what I should be. I have the choice to make my own boxes to check. This is the world I strive to live in and I am determined to help create this world I envisage in any possible way I can. My first step is with this post; now, I didn’t become this person on my own. I was brought into this Universe by a mother who has always been strong and independent. She has always known who she is and anyone who knows her knows that she is strong and opinionated. She taught me that I am my own person, that I must be strong in order to survive in this world and that no one, male or female, has the right to tell me how I should live my life. Granted, there have been moments of weakness on both our parts (we are human after all, perfectly imperfect and filled with beautiful flaws) where we have forgotten this fundamental right but it has always been there, hidden deep within my subconscious. This dynamic, this relationship (especially the conversations) between a mother and her daughter(s) is the most vital relationship in a woman’s life. It’s the catalyst to how we see ourselves, how we allow the world to see us and to treat us and how we choose to see and treat the world. There is no greater or more impactful relationship than the one between mother and her daughter.
I don’t know what it is like to be a mother, I don’t know what it is like to raise daughters in a world where she will always be told how to exist in this world and treated like an object whose valued is based and decided on her outward appearance, her ability to assimilate to convention, her ability to stay small and not use her voice. I may not know what it is like to raise daughters in this world, however, I do know what it is like to be raised by strong mothers. I am surrounded by them, mothers who are unrelenting in their determination to raise daughters who know their value, know that they are worth more than beautiful then pretty than whatever physical qualities society demands from her. Mothers who are willing to have the difficult conversations, the conversations that go against the grain of what generations of mother-daughter conversations have been. My mother has always demanded more of me, more than simply being pretty, she has demanded that I be strong, be intelligent, be educated, to not let others make me small, to be kind and giving, to give respect when respect has been earned. My mother has taught me that respect in a relationship has to be earned, that I should never settle for less than I deserve, that simply because I am a female does not mean that I must obey, and that my body is mine, that it is not to be objectified and used. She has also had to have the very difficult conversations, the conversations that frustrate and anger me because they shouldn’t be conversations that need to be had. The conversations where I am told that there will be men who will not see me as human, who will see me as an object to be manipulated, who will demean and belittle me, who will try to make me small. Men who will view me as lesser than because I am female, who will use my physical appearance as reasons and excuses and explanations, that I will lose out on opportunities and experiences because I am female. I have moments where that knowledge terrifies me, but I choose to let it inspire me. I choose to let it motivate me to be strong, to have a voice and to let it be heard. Even though I have had those moments where my body has been objectified, where I’ve had to cover myself in fear of provoking sexual comments, where using the word “no” was taken as a joke or as me being a tease, where men have told me that I would be more attractive to them if I dressed a little more feminine, wore more makeup and had longer hair. As if my value and worth can be measured by the length of my hair and the amount of mascara I applied that morning. We have all had experiences with misogyny in some significant way, the point isn’t that it happened to us because we can’t change that, the point is how we choose to handle it. After all of my experiences with it, it has made me stronger and more determined to change the conversation. To take what my mother and all the women before me have given me and use it to change the conversation here and now. If we look back on the conversations our grandmothers had with our mothers, and our great-grandmothers had with our grandmothers, it’s not the same type of conversation, which means that change is happening. We need to keep that momentum going, to change the conversation even more from one of complacency and acceptance of the way women were treated by society and by men, to one where our young generations of girls are empowered to be who they truly are without judgment, to be treated as more than pretty objects, to be given the same rights, opportunities, experiences as the boys around them. We need to empower our young girls to take charge of their lives and focus on building self-respect and self-love instead of focusing on which Instagram filter they should use to appeal to their friends and followers.
So if you are reading this I ask this of you, if you are a mother with daughters (or a grandmother or friend of a friend of a friend) I implore you to have the difficult conversations with her about what is truly means to be a woman in today’s world, because by taking the time to have a conversation about feminism, it makes it real. It becomes more than a simple conversation it becomes awareness and awareness is like a spark that creates empowerment and change. Beyond that, I ask that you teach your daughters that it is not her job to be pretty, she was not placed on this Earth to simply be pretty. She was placed on this Earth to shatter convention, to be so intelligent and strong and determined that it shakes the core of your being, that her value and worth is not measured by her beauty but rather by her ability to feel things deeply, to be vulnerable and open, to be kind and loving, to be compassionate and passionate about life. It is our duty and responsibility as women to change the conversation, to make the conversation about empowerment, about owning our woman-ness and finding a power in that. I truly believe that by changing the conversation we have with our daughters, it can create a tidal wave of evolution that can slowly but surely change the way women are viewed in society. Even more than that, by allowing our daughters to be themselves, to choose how they want to present themselves to society, allowing that independence to blossom there is no telling what she may be capable of. Within every woman is the power to change the world, you just have to allow her the space and knowledge to shatter her glass ceilings.
Here’s to my strong females, much love and respect,
PS: On the eve of what could be one of the greatest moments in history for women and for mankind, I want us to take a moment to appreciate all the women who have gotten us here. The women who have sacrificed so much, fought so hard for this moment, for raising the bar on what is possible for us. I want you to take a few moments out of your day to thank the women who have given you so much. Thank them for teaching you what it truly means to be a nasty woman who can shatter all her glass ceilings. Then let’s get to work creating a generation of #nastywomen who get shit done.