During this month celebrating women's history, I feel the need to come out of the "closet" (so-to-speak) and admit that I am a feminist!
Those who know me are probably laughing out loud right now, saying to themselves, "What closet, Denise? We've known that about you for years!"
True, true. However, I feel the need to say it as someone who blogs about her life as a stay-at-home mom trying to survive motherhood. A belief seems to exist that a stay-at-home mom can't be a feminist.
Feminists work outside the home full-time and have their children in day care, right?
They are role models for their children on what they can do and don't waste the education they were given, right?
Wrong. A feminist is simply someone who believes that women should have the same rights and opportunities (politically, economically, and socially) as men. It's as simple as that.
I support men staying home with children, if they wish, just as I support highly educated (and even non-educated) women staying home. We should all have choices based on what is best for ourselves and our families.
My mom was the first feminist I knew. Growing up as a young child in the 1970s, I heard a lot about feminism. My mom didn't agree with all of it. She was a stay-at-home mom herself, at the time. One thing that infuriated her was other feminists putting her down for staying at home with my sister and me. What they didn't see were the lessons my mom passed on to us.
She talked about how a marriage was a partnership; not one person having power over the other like it was in the past. She wrote her Congressmen and Senators asking that they pass the Equal Rights Amendment (which still sits waiting to be voted on over 30 years later). In 1980, she voted for an independent candidate who supported women's rights.
Beyond that, though, if we talked about wanting to be a stewardess (the name for flight attendant once upon a time), my mom would ask us, "Why not be a pilot?" If we said we wanted to be a nurse, she would ask, "Why not be a doctor?" It wasn't that she wouldn't support us being a flight attendant or nurse. No. She just wanted us to see beyond the gender stereotypes constantly being represented in the media during the 1970s and early 1980s. I imagine that if she had sons and they said they wanted to be a doctor, she would have said, "Why not a nurse?"
My mom started working outside the home when I was 10-years-old. I saw what an education and determination could bring to a woman in the workforce. She began as a staff accountant and worked up to financial controller at her company. However, I also witnessed the struggles she faced just because she was a woman. Doors were closed to her because she wasn't a male.
Unfortunately, times have not changed much. Glass ceilings exist in many careers to this day as well as being paid unequal wages for the same work, just because you are a woman.
I don't want that for my daughters.
I plan to encourage my girls to do more and be more that what is expected of them as females. It is my goal to work toward safer environments for my daughters and their daughters, on the internet and in the real world. They should not be slandered, physically assaulted, or treated as less than because of their gender. I want more for them than I had available even for myself.
I'm lucky. My mom's role in my life made me feel like I could do whatever I wanted. I want to do the same for my three girls as they grow up.
Because of my mom, I don't feel that being a stay-at-home mom discourages that either. In fact, I'll use my role to help them achieve what they want in life and let them know that they can do what they want.