“Feminist” Isn’t a Curse Word or Insult

feminist

A friend recently admitted to getting emotional while watching Hillary Clinton accept the Democratic Presidential nominee. Then qualified her statement with, “I’m not a feminist by any means . . . “

Well, I am.

Because I believe that all human beings, no matter what their genitalia looks like, are equal.

Because if I am hired to do a job and get paid for it, and I do that job well, I should get paid the same as anyone else who does the job. No matter what either of our genitalia looks like.

Because I believe that women shouldn’t be treated like a liability simply because we can, or might, reproduce.

Because it’s disgusting that the United States of America has yet to have a female leader, while various countries around the world have. England, France, Germany, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Nicaragua, India, South Korea, Sri Lanka, just to name a few.

Because I’m sick of reading about rape victims’ lifestyle choices, clothing choices, drinking choices, career choices, walking choices, friend choices, motherhood choices, who she chose or didn’t choose to accompany her to a party, what party she chose to attend, why she chose to attend, and on and on and on. Oh, and the accuser’s swim times.

Because I’m tired of women who avail themselves of social service programs being treated like thieves, emptying your pockets of your hard-earned money. Like they immaculately conceived their child(ren) as a way to avoid work their entire lives. Like they are all drug addicts and alcoholics. When, in fact, a study revealed “that 56% of federal and state dollars spent between 2009 and 2011 on welfare programs — including Medicaid, food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit — flowed to working families and individuals with jobs. In some industries, about half the workforce relies on welfare.” (Source.)

Because I hate how women are treated as if they’re ornaments. Like they’re daft. They’re asked stupid questions if they’re actresses. They’re asked stupid questions if they’re astronauts. They’re asked stupid questions if they’re politicians. They’re asked stupid questions on job interviews.

I’m a proud feminist.

No matter what you think of that word.

No matter how much it sounds like a sneer when it comes out of some people’s mouths.

No matter that you treat it like it’s a curse word or an insult.

I’m a proud fucking feminist.

And if you believe in equality, for all human beings, you are as well.

So embrace it. Take the bitter taste out of the word. The very people who want to keep you down, are the ones who keep it tainted. Don’t buy into their patriarchal, ignorant bullshit. Flip those fuckers off.

Want to know how?

Be a fucking feminist.

 

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Give Me My Moment With All the Female Pronouns

Anyone else sick of politics? Yeah, me too. But if you would please indulge me for a moment . . . 

Because I’m having a moment.

It hit me just a little while ago.

She is an official nominee for President of the United States of America. 

She wasn’t my first choice. She wasn’t in my top ten of potential choices. I do sort of feel as if I’m voting for her because she is the lesser of two evils. Way lesser. In fact, not even in the same realm of evil. Despite not being my first choice, I still think she has fuck tons of experience that will serve her well.

All that aside . . . 

SHE is an official nominee for President of the United States of America. 

I grew up thinking that would not ever happen. Not from one of the two major parties.

I grew up assuming, never questioning, that the President of the United States is a man. Always had been and always would be.

Kids today will not grow up with that assumption.

If you think this isn’t a big deal, consider recent articles from NPR and The Wall Street Journal that discuss the implications of a “First Dude” and his role. 

I mean, he certainly won’t give up his post-Presidential career, right? A First Lady sets aside her career, but not a First Dude, right? <insert manly shudders of horror>

My favorite debate is the one about picking place settings and decor. 

With respect to my own husband, I am probably still going to pick the flowers and the china for state dinners and stuff like that, but I will certainly turn to him, as prior presidents have, for special missions for advice,” Hillary Clinton said in the ABC News Democratic debate in December.

That right there is why this is a big deal.

So give me my moment of relishing she and her. Let me enjoy my moment chock full of all the female pronouns and the realization that, finally, being she and her is the same as being limitless.

Sometimes I Just Want to be Right

Like when I ask him a question and he says he already told me the answer.

When did you tell me that?

When I called to ask you about that other thing, he answers. 

Which is wrong. More wrong than saying Courtney Love had all the talent in the relationship.

He didn’t tell me during that conversation. He called and asked me for a password. I told him I’d have to look it up and text it to him. He thanked me and we hung up.

Clearly, he’s wrong.

So we end up in a bit of a spat over whether he did or didn’t tell me the information he claims I should already possess. (He didn’t.)

But he’s right. It doesn’t matter how absofuckinglutely sure I am that I’m correct. He’s equally as sure he’s correct.

That right there is one of the most difficult things about being married (or in any other type of relationship/entanglement.) Having to back down from being right when you know, you fucking know, how right you are.

Because sometimes it’s not about something stupid like the example above. Often it’s the two of you trying to navigate life together while also working and maybe raising kids and trying to achieve goals and worrying about a metric shit ton of things that could derail all your dreams. It’s two individuals trying to make a partnership work.  

It’s two people moving through life as a cohesive unit but also fiercely holding onto their sense of self.

Sometimes I just want to be right.

So he backs down. 

I forget that he does that. In the heat of the moment, when I’m pissed he’s arguing with me, I forget about all the times he backed down. All the times he knew he was right but walked away anyway. I forget until he does it again and I’m reminded we both get our moments of basking in the smug.

Sometimes I just want to be right.

Then I remember that even when we argue, we don’t call each other names. We don’t put each other down. Aside from that time I threw the peanut butter at the wall, we’ve never forgotten that respect for each other is more important than being correct. We can dig our heels in and tug back and forth and still love each other at the end of the day. 

Sometimes I just want to be right. 

Until I take a breath and realize that sometimes being wrong just means I love him. And he loves me, too.

I know because he’s wrong way more than I am.

Kidding!

(Sort of.)

I’ll Answer Your Question, But I Don’t Think You’re Asking the Right One 

Ask the right questions, and the answers might help you hurdle obstacles. – Photo by Allison Bedford

​I wrote an article recently about my commitment to making my voice heard in regards to the racism I was raised around, the racism I still see exhibited from others, and the culture existing in law enforcement that fosters racism and bad behavior in some officers. In the wake of its publication, I was asked one question more than others.

Why didn’t you say something sooner?

A very valid question. Not the most valid question, in my opinion,  but we’ll get to that. 

First, let me answer why.

My Upbringing

I come from a family of law enforcement officers. The one who raised me was also mentally unstable and abusive. Growing up, I knew he was racist. He frequently expressed racist views to me and my siblings. I do recall some discussions with him in which we expressed disagreement. But they were only when he was in a good mood. Typically when he was in a good mood, we did everything we could to keep him that way. So even were I able to somehow get in touch with his superiors (in a time before email and website contact forms or even having my own phone to use) I would have been too afraid to ever actually do so. 

And I’m not sure his superiors would have listened or had any recourse.

Privilege 

I grew up in a middle class neighborhood that was almost entirely white. The area in which I grew up was largely segregated. Most of the towns and cities around us were also white, and the adults in my family openly discussed not going to the neighborhoods that weren’t white because they weren’t, in their opinions, safe

This meant that the struggles others faced were largely invisible to me growing up. 

Life 

I moved out of my family home as soon as I was able and within a year was living with my husband and helping to raise my stepchildren. Soon after, I became pregnant with my first child. As I grew into adulthood, the struggles of others were no longer hidden. I saw them in the news. The advent of social media brought them into my home in tangible ways. 

But I was also starting a new journey through motherhood. While I made a concerted effort, one I still put the full force of my being behind every day, to ensure that my children are raised very differently from how I was raised, I still didn’t jump into social action right away. I didn’t know there was anything I could do. 

Eventually I did focus on creating change within my community, particularly in regards to projects that focused on education, literacy, and food security because I felt those issues are important to all people, regardless of race. 

But, no, I still didn’t focus my attention on issues concerning racism.

Other things happened, too. Life, with all its inherent ups and downs. More kids, health issues, family struggles, moves and deaths and graduations and crises and . . . well if you’ve done any amount of living, you know.

So, does any of this provide for you a satisfactory enough answer?

I look at the answers and in some respects I think, Hey, this is all valid. It’s not that you didn’t care. Life just got in the way and the issues our nation is discussing now weren’t in your face.

Then I look at them again and think, You failed. This isn’t good enough. Why haven’t you spoken up sooner?

No matter what you think of my answers, your opinion of them won’t ever change them.

That’s why the question,”Why didn’t you say something sooner?” is not the most important one to ask.

Whether you’re discussing with someone the issue of racism in our country, or police violence, or domestic violence, or rape culture, or sustainability, or childhood hunger . . . 

Whatever the issue, if it matters to you and you’re discussing it with someone who says, “I hear you. I understand. I want to help,” then WHY can be placed on the back burner. 

Yes, it’s a valid question. But you can get to that later. 

Instead, ask WHAT.

  • What can you do to help?
  • What ideas do you have to help bring about change?
  • What are you willing/able to contribute towards enacting change?

If you’re serious about change, if you’re dedicated to a cause, then WHAT is so much more important. It’s so much more timely. 

Asking what keeps you moving forward. The answers you receive could be the stepping stones needed to hurdle obstacles.

When change has been achieved, when you fought the good fight and hopefully have a moment to put up your feet and take a breather, even if only for a moment, then ask why.

Those answers are the guidelines for ensuring you, and the cause you fought for, don’t end up sliding backwards and repeating history.

Ask what. It’s important. 

Even if the conversation is just with yourself.