by Danielle Lyons
I often joke that I was doomed to be a feminist from an early age. Instead of reading me children’s books, my grandmother told me stories about the how the 40’s – 60’s were for her as a women. Beautiful and tragic stories about body image, early days of reproduction rights and the pressures of domestic life. The bottom line always being, “You are powerful. You get to choose what treatment you accept.” She inspired me to care so deeply about the rights of women. I don’t believe she was aware of her feminism or what a bit impact it would have.
Second-wave feminist are important in our history as women. These beautiful, powerful and inspiring women paved the way to ensure us women today had a better life. These are the women that brought is, “Take Back the Night,” “The Equal Rights Amendment,” “The Equal Pay Act,” and “Title IX.”
It is my goal to learn as much as I can from these powerful women. This is important information to obtain. To kick off this journey for knowledge I interviewed a Women’s Center patron and participant of The Vagina Monologues, Scotty Johnson. This is what she had to say:
“When I was very young I became aware expectations were different for my brother and me. My role was to be pleasant and learn ‘women’s work’. His was to be strong and prepare for college and a career. No one seemed to care if I was smart and later good in school. Without knowing what it was my feminist self was born then. Ever since I have balked at the unfairness of gender based roles. I have become more outspoken. Naturally, with time I have become more educated and aware of the huge scope of women’s rights. Growing up in small town Midwest USA, I wasn’t exposed to much feminism except to hear it ridiculed by folks who just had no clue what it was or what it really meant. I was a closet feminist so as not to cause discord. Looking back, it seems apparent to me that pressures on women haven’t really changed. They have been re-defined and in some ways added to partially because of the progress each generation is making in feminism.
My spine became a bit more steely with the birth of my daughters. I still didn’t label the things I felt or thought about the gender biased role expectations. But, as a mom I was becoming more aware, less tolerant of it and more outspoken against it. For many years, to me it wasn’t just “feminist” it was about “fairness” and what I felt was “right” as a human. My feminism is solid but flexible. By that I mean, my method of being a proponent of feminism changes dependent upon the need. I recognize not everyone with whom I come in contact is going to instantly “see the light”. I am trying to be content with planting seeds. Other women inspire me. Other feminists who spend their days busily living their lives the best they can and yet will always take the time to lift other women up. My circle of friends constantly prod me to act, to be strong to share my feminism with pride. My adult daughters inspire me and prod me to action to help them create a world worthy of my grandchildren. I think in some ways we are still creating a niche that is not defined by men in all areas of life. This puts the added pressure of letting go of much that women have been programmed to believe in order to truly create a place that fits women, instead of women working to fit into a place already partially created.
Do the best you can to be faithful to the person who lives inside you. Don’t be afraid of growth, but remember sometimes that process is uncomfortable. Women are smart and caring and Strong. Be That!”
Wise works spoken from a wonderful woman.