[This post is the first in an on-going series of social justice stories and reflections from members of the First UU Wichita congregation. If you would like to submit a blog post for publication, please contact our Social Action Coordinator Margi Ault-Duell at email@example.com. Enjoy!]
Once upon a feminist life…
Written by Del Smith
When did you know–really, really know, positively and for sure—that you are a feminist?
Fair treatment for farmers, whether they wore aprons or overalls, became a serious matter for my 10 year old self during harvest time 74 years ago. My mother and I worked together all morning. We did the farm chores usually shared with dad. We took coffee, ice tea and sandwiches to the combine crew for their mid-morning break. She made a pie and fried chicken, fixed vegetables and mashed potatoes for the noon meal.
The 3-man crew washed their hands and faces, then stretched out on the living room floor to rest. Mom and I put out the meal. Instead of summoning the men to the table, I decided it “Just Wasn’t Fair”–and that I should share that insight. Standing over Dad, I explained that Mom hadn’t had any rest all day…..and it wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair. Probably I stamped my foot for emphasis.
Surprise! The men laughed at me and my mother pulled me aside, not to thank me, but to advise me that “getting smart” wasn’t a good idea.
That audacious girl wasn’t silenced; I just tried to be a little more discriminating about voicing opinions on fair treatment during the six more years I lived on that Kansas farm.
Along the way I learned the word for my wanting fair treatment for everyone: feminism. I also learned that feminism isn’t gender-specific. Feminists come with all combinations of chromosomes and testosterone. Biology shouldn’t dictate intellectual and social functions, capabilities, and rights. bell hooks (sic) states it precisely: “…feminism—creating a world free of sexism—is only possible if men and women both believe in and fight for the feminist cause. “
Feminism applies to causes other than women’s issues—gun violence, LBGQI concerns, disparate treatment of people of color, to name a few. Look around at the next gathering for a progressive cause you attend. Chances are most, if not all, are feminists, whether or not they publicly identify as such.
Do you identify publicly as a feminist? Your fundamentalist cousins might change their minds about “man-hating crazies” or “wimpy mama’s boys” if they realized their sensible, intelligent relative is actually a practicing feminist. Try it!
Pictured: Feminists Corey Swertfager, Charles Merrifield, Mary Erickson