I happen to have the best Mom in the world. She's taught me everything and then some. I'm still trying to figure out where she gets all her energy and endless devotion, and how to emulate it. It'll be my life's work. The kind of sacrifice and love that embodies a great Mom is the inspiration behind the poem below (I think) and the root of my feminism.
Feminism. Thought by some to be a dirty word. I've heard many a friend say, "I'm not a feminist, but I think..." and then they say something that is important and very supportive of women being treated equally. When I point out something I think is unfair or gender biased, people have asked me, "You're not a feminist, are you?" Like a cute way to joke about my semi-strong opinion.
Well, yes, of course I'm a feminist. Please recall the quote defining feminism as having thoughts that differentiate you from a dishwashing machine, or my choice here, doormat. Do I think people should be treated equally? Yes, I do. Not just women, either, and I think that's where some of the confusion lies. Defining feminism is complicated because by nature women are thinkers and inclusive and we defy catagorization as a whole. We're too big of a group to agree on a narrow set of words to embody our unity and strength. But it's there, the strength, holding up our world. If it was better tapped into, then the world would be a better place. I fight the stigma of feminism by saying I am one and then being a good, rational, kind person.
Do I burn bras? I would like to, yes.
Am I a third wave feminist? Yes, sure.
Do I prefer the term womanist? Sure, I like that too.
Do I think the feminist movement has included persons of different sexuality, color and social status?
No, not enough, it's never enough, we have to always keep trying and opening our minds to others.
My writing is flavored with my girl power beliefs in an effort to keep the dialogue open and continue passing it down to the younger reader/generation. I worry in our digital age and under constant media assault that our identity as women will be homogenized beyond recognition. I don't want my girls molded into a plastic image, constantly working to achieve a photo shopped body and a 'mass market appeal' type mind. If only women could join together then there would be no one to pose for those sexy scanty ads that do not sell anything sexy or scanty. There wouldn't be anyone to buy the ads or products. Women make the world turn, we makes houses into homes and are usually the primary parent. Not always, but often. We have more power than we know. Maybe realizing that power has to do with being comfortable with the label feminist.
The good old days at home sweet home
by Marge Piercy
On Monday my mother washed.
It was the way of the world,
all those lines of sheets flapping
in the narrow yards of the neighborhood,
the pulleys stretching out second
and third floor windows.
Down in the dank steamy basement,
wash tubs vast and grey, the wringer
sliding between the washer
and each tub. At least every
year she or I caught
a hand in it.
Tuesday my mother ironed.
One iron was the mangle.
She sat at it feeding in towels,
sheets, pillow cases.
The hand ironing began
with my father's underwear.
She ironed his shorts.
She ironed his socks.
She ironed his undershirts.
Then came the shirts,
a half hour to each, the starch
boiling on the stove.
I forgot bluing. I forgot
the props that held up the line
clattering down. I forgot
chasing the pigeons that shat
on her billowing housedresses.
I forgot clothespins in the teeth.
Tuesday my mother ironed my
father's underwear. Wednesday
she mended, darned socks on
a wooden egg. Shined shoes.
Thursday she scrubbed floors.
Put down newspapers to keep
them clean. Friday she
vacuumed, dusted, polished,
scraped, waxed, pummeled.
How did you become a feminist
interviewers always ask,
as if to say, when did this
rare virus attack your brain?
It could have been Sunday
when she washed the windows,
Thursday when she burned
the trash, bought groceries
hauling the heavy bags home.
It could have been any day
she did again and again what
time and dust obliterated
at once until stroke broke
her open. I think it was Tuesday
when she ironed my father's shorts.
"The good old days at home sweet home" by Marge Piercy, from Colors Passing Through Us. © Alfred A. Knopf, 2003.