A Letter to my Daughter About Feminism

Hi Sweetie,

There’s been a lot of talk lately about feminism and some people seem to be confused on what it means, so let me explain to you what it means to me.  When I was growing up in the 70’s there was A LOT happening on the feminism front.  In fact, I didn’t even realize all the things that were happening until I watched The Seventies mini-series on CNN last summer {you can watch it, too in a couple of years.  It’s currently streaming on Netflix.} I had no idea what women were going through at that time; then again I was in Kindergarten.  But seriously, we women went through a lot of shit {bad word, I know} in the 70’s. 

Feminism

 We have been going through a lot of shit for a long time, and it’s something some of us don’t even think twice about.  The feminist movement was created out of a need for women to be more equal to men; to create a level-playing field.  And when I say level playing field, I mean all the players who show up and play the game get paid the same.  Like, John went to college, I went to college, John has five years experience, I have five years experience, John can type 40 wpm, and I can type 80 wpm, therefore we should get paid the same {but we don’t.  He gets paid more.  Pretty backwards, huh?}

 A level-playing field is not “Well, he doesn’t have to wear a shirt with his uniform, so I’m not wearing one with mine.”  That would make you a nudist, not a feminist.  I mean you can be both for sure, but don’t confuse them.  And if your uniform isn’t clean and you have nothing else to wear, that doesn’t mean you can just show up to work naked.   

 Here are some important things to know about feminism:

  • Sister Suffragette is not just a song in Mary Poppins.  It was a movement in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  It was a lot of women who spent a lot of time protesting, getting arrested, having things thrown at them {and not just nasty words,} and getting beat up so that women would have the right to vote and run for public office.  Because there was a time when we didn’t have either right.  Don’t ever forget it because it wasn’t that long ago.
  • The 70’s are important because women were still fighting.  We now had the right to vote, but in the workplace, we were seen as “less than.”  Just watch a few episodes of Mad Men to see what women in the 50’s and 60’s went through in the workplace.  Your mom is part of the first generation of women who grew up knowing she could be anything.  Seriously, think about that.  Just 40 years ago, little girls knew they could grow up and actually become an astronaut or a rocket scientist.  A doctor or a nurse.  A mom and a career woman.  The lead singer or the guitar player.  The CEO or the secretary.  Or a mom who stays at home.  The point is now it’s up to you to make those choices.  You get to choose because it’s your life and the opportunities are now there because of the women who fought for change in the 70’s.
  • Back to the 70’s.  Roe vs. Wade.  You’re 8, so I’ll save you from the specifics, but know that this is important because it gave you a right to privacy when it comes to your body.  I know, I know why wouldn’t you have a right to privacy when it comes to your body, but remember women had to fight for it.
  • Your body.  This is all part of the sexual revolution fought in the 70’s, so we’ll talk about this one in a few years, but for the future, having sex with whomever you want is feminism because you get to make that choice, not anyone else.  If anyone makes that choice for you, you will know your rights and you will fight for them.
  • On the flip side having sex with lots of people is not feminism; it’s promiscuity.  If you choose to be promiscuous, that’s your choice, and while Samantha Jones makes it look really, really, really, really fun, know that it’s risky behavior.  Just be smart with your sexuality and make good choices. 
  • You may see celebrities post naked pictures of themselves and call it feminism.  Okay, one celebrity post naked pictures of herself, the point is this is not feminism.  As previously stated, women have fought for years to be viewed as more than a naked body.  She has no class.  You should also know that money can buy lots of things, but it can’t buy class.
  • Feminism is tricky.  There are many layers to it and you have to remember that it’s a constant battle.  We don’t make as much as men do, even in similar positions with similar educations and experience.  Of course it’s wrong and it needs to change.  There are many who don’t have an appreciation for this history, so don’t ever forget what the women before you had to do to get this far.

Now get out there and take on the world!

Love, Mom    

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Comments

  1. Great post. I love the part of the song in Sister Suffragette, “Our daughter’s daughter will adore us and they sing in grateful chorus, Well Done Sister Suffragette.” Are we singing their praises and showing our gratitude? We still have a lot of work to do. Especially in other countries. We need to help lift each other.

    I’m so thankful for brave women who have paved a path for me to be able to live the way I do.

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