I’ve been on a bit of a feminist streak lately. No, that’s not the right way to put it. Rather, I’ve recently more fully discovered my voice as a feminist, which has allowed me to better articulate feelings I’ve always had, as a result of navigating through the world as a woman who was raised without even the suggestion that my opportunities, talents, intelligence or place in the world were tied in any way to my gender.
As it turned out, not everyone I encountered in life has shared my assumptions about myself on that bit. (I know. It was shocking to me too.) My refusal to behave in any other way has caused some ruffling of feathers and raising of hackles – both my own feathers and hackles, and those of and others. Oops. I’ve gone through periods of time when I wondered if I just should throw my hands up and be more…something: passive? feminine? well-behaved? But while I never settled on any alternative way to approach life as a woman, I also never felt secure in explaining why I felt so strongly about being this way.
What do I mean by “this way”? Here are some typical things I can’t not do sometimes:
- Yell at the TV when the Michigan politics show has four middle-aged white dudes with all of the wisdom, talking about all of the things.
- Totally lose my sh*$ when the first question a former boss asks me when considering a decision that will impact my future with the organization is, “When do you think you’re going to get married?”
- Go into a social media ranting tailspin when a dude argues with me on a lady matter and/or there are no women in the upcoming gubernatorial race and/or Chris Brown does anything.
That’s called being me.
Then I read Lean In, in which I learned how successful women are – statistically – less liked than successful men, as well as bunch of other mind-blowing facts about women’s ongoing challenges in the struggle to get to the high-level positions that have real power in the business world. Then, I read, When Everything Changed: The amazing history of the American woman from 1960 to the present. Did you know that in the 1970s women could not get a credit card or mortgage without a husband’s signature? Or that no one ever actually burned a bra? That it was just the beginning of a still-successful PR backlash aimed at making women ashamed to be feminists? Insanity. It’s insanity to me.
What was exciting though, was that after reading these books, which, in tandem, provide an amazingly comprehensive historic and current perspective on feminism in America, I finally understood myself better. Why? Because the story of women in America is my story. It’s my story. It belongs to me, as it does to every other woman in this country. It helps put who I am into context, explains why people treat me a certain way, and is why I can feel validated to be me.
This is why it’s important to know our stories, tell our stories and share our stories. Because they belong to us. Because they are us.