I have been editing some writing for a friend and something she wrote has been rolling around in my head for the last few days. She explained that the birth of her daughter was the catalyst for change in her life. Specifically, she realized that her amazing little girl would be watching everything she did and listening to everything she said. She vowed to stop the negative way she talked about herself and her body.
Last year, I taught first-year women’s studies to a lovely group of young women, and one young man. On the first day, I asked those who considered themselves feminists to raise their hands. Out of over twenty students, three raised their hands. I was floored. I thought that any liberal-minded, young woman would identify as a feminist. Unfortunately, the reasons they gave for not being feminist were of the stereotypical hairy man-hating variety. One woman even said that her husband was concerned about her taking the class because she might be taught to leave him!
I grew up in a conventional home with a stay-at-home mother and a working father. I came of age during the burgeoning third wave of feminism, and cut my teeth under the guidance of Sassy magazine, girl bands, and the riot grrrl movement. It never once occurred to me that I was anything other than a feminist which, in its purest sense, means nothing more than pro-woman. When I listened to the young women in my class, I realized that we are seriously lacking in positive, female role models who identify as feminist.
My fears about having children were not based on labour and delivery but on the immensity of the responsibility that nurturing another human being entails. I didn’t know if I’d be good at it and I still don’t. I will, however, attempt to model the self-respect and pride that I want my daughter to have. I will raise a feminist.