I think it was 2nd grade that I gained my first seed of feminism…or maybe I’ll call it self worth? Because that’s what it was—I knew I was worth as much as boys and I saw the injustice between how the two sexes are treated.
On the playground (again, I was 8), a group of 7 boys took turns picking me up (all while I screamed and cried in protest) and tossed me around to each other. They hugged me, held me, said inappropriate things, tried to steal kisses, and laughed when I cried. Don’t try telling me they were just being boys. They saw my tears, and they saw how I tried to break away from their grasps.
The bell rang, and as the boys began to disperse, I managed to grab one boy by the collar and shake him as I yelled at him, “Never touch me again!” At that exact moment, a person on duty saw my actions and punished me. I tried to explain amidst my tears, but was promptly “shut up” and threatened with the principal’s office.
I wish that was my only experience being treated that way, but it wasn’t. Sadly, moments like that have happened throughout my entire life—though, thankfully, not all have been physical assaults, and, for the most part, the moments have happened less and less as I’ve grown older and grown into my own voice.
Today, my daughter had her first experience like this (I’m grateful hers wasn’t until 5th grade—that’s progress!). Though hers is less traumatic by a million percent (boys threw snowballs at her while she sledded down a hill with her friends, and she now has a week-long punishment of cleaning the cafeteria for their actions), I’m still upset.
I’m fuming. The male teacher would not even listen to her and the other three girls. He told them “I don’t care if you did anything, you’re getting punished.” And then, he threatened them with detention if they didn’t be quiet.
You guys. Whyyyyyy? I’m so sick of this. People are grossed out by “feminists”, but why? I’m more grossed out with misogynists. I’m more grossed out with a grown man more interested in exerting his power over children than listening to young girls explain what happened.
True feminists just want women to be respected as much as men. True feminists don’t hate men. True feminists just hate misogyny. True female feminists are just tired of being told to be quiet and look pretty.
True feminists are about HUMAN rights, not just women’s rights. True feminists want everyone treated with compassion, kindness, respect, and understanding. True feminists don’t wish all that is feminine and uniquely female to fade away or turn into male or masculinity. True female feminists (because men can actually be—and hopefully do call themselves—feminists too) love being women.
Because women’s issues are a HUMAN issue.
So, I’m a day late writing this post, but happy International Women’s Day! I’m so grateful for strong women in my life and for leaders all around the world that show the strength of women.
Things are getting better, and I do believe they will continue in that direction. I hope to teach my girls to be soft and strong, smart and ambitious, loving and respectful of everyone and anyone, and to stand up for themselves and others.
So, in celebration of the good, here is one of the good feminists—one who cared about all people. She is also one of my recently discovered cousins, Helen Pitts Douglas.
She was a suffragist and married Frederick Douglas after the death of his first wife. When asked about her choice to marry a black man, she said, “Love came to me, and I was not afraid to marry the man I loved because of his color.”
Click the link above to learn more about this amazing woman!
Happy International Women’s Day!