Simply put, it is my deep commitment to feminism that inspires me to be political in my life, writing, teaching, activism, and work. The harder question to answer is where that feminism came from. Unlike many feminists, I cannot point to a “click” moment when I became aware of injustice and the oppression of women. Rather, I have no memory of a time that I wasn’t somehow a feminist. My mother and graduate advisor have both joked that I was simply “born” a feminist. If I believed in a gene for feminism, that would indeed be the likely explanation. Since I don’t, however, we’ll have to go with the following as likely causal factors:
- My “tomboyishness” as a child. Nothing ticked me off more than being told I couldn’t do something the boys were doing. Nothing.
- Marlo Thomas (I grew up in the 70s and thus was exposed to “Free to Be You and Me” at an early age).
- My mother and grandmothers. While none of them would use the word feminist to describe themselves, they’re all strong women who raised their daughters to know no boundaries.
- My junior year abroad where I was for the first time exposed to German women writers and the progressive politics of the city and university of Bremen. My commitment to feminist scholarly work was only strengthened by the whining of the male German majors with whom I graduated, who apparently found having the women’s movement as our senior seminar a personal affront. After 3 1/2 years of a group of mostly women students reading mostly male authors with no complaints, the fact that the men all reacted so negatively to ONE semester of focusing on women was eye-opening.
Now that I a “professional feminist,” it is the community of amazing women and men with whom I work both locally and nationally who inspire me to continue to be political. I am also inspired by my students, who deserve equality. I am hopeful that they will continue to remake the world and that they will find their own political inspiration.
Note: This is my response to Prompt #6 for #swinspires, the Give the Gift of Inspiration campaign hosted by She Writes. Between December 13 and 24, 10 She Writers who inspire *us* will share a writing prompt. Writing Prompt #6 is: “What inspires you…to be political?” It is cross-posted, as all of my swinspires posts will be, on my She Writes blog page.
[Creative Commons licensed photos by Flickr user Jay Morrison.]