I Am the Product of a Misogynist and a Feminist
“You’re a girl, but you can overcome it.” My father would say in an encouraging voice. As if it is a disease I have to fight.
I suppose as a misogynist it was a conflict for him to have a daughter he loved and wanted to encourage but believed was limited by her gender. He was right. I was. But not of my own doing. I was limited by the environment men like him created.
I was gifted a play kitchen while my father built a mock cockpit with my brother. That was fine because I flew my own invisible plane courtesy of Wonder Woman.
I watched my mother struggle for respect when she decided to return to work. Her responsibilities at home remained the same and my father consistently criticized her duties while blatantly ignoring her accomplishments outside of the home. I remember the endless fights. She wanted equality, he wanted a subservient wife. She wasn’t going to cave.
My brother told her at age two that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. It’s been a “family joke” for years but not to me, and I would bet not to my mother either. It was a product of my father’s view of women and my mother had to watch it blossoming in her next generation.
She always says she wasn’t an active feminist when I talk about idols like Alice Paul and Shirley Chisholm. She thinks she would have had to be burning bras and marching on Washington to call herself that. But she was. She was my feminist.
I remember watching The Brady Bunch with her once when I was pretty young. In that episode the boys had a guy’s only club house so the girls had to build their own. They failed horribly and the boys had to come to the rescue. My mother was so vocally pissed it confused me. She told me the girls could have done it themselves and she was mad the show projected otherwise. That moment is an example of her active feminism. Social change ALWAYS begins at home.
I learned the fight a wife and mother must endure while working. I learned what it was like to constantly be treated as second class yet find the inner-strength not to believe it. I learned how to fight for yourself even though everything in your vacuum world tells you otherwise. She was (is) an activist. The best kind of activist. She is my activist. I credit the feminist I am today to her. Thanks mom. I love you.
How are things with my dad you ask? My mom divorced him decades ago. Wife two and three left their jobs to stay at home. He still tells me women are horrible managers and that the Chinese symbol for chaos is two women under the same roof. When I told him I landed a new job he kept calling me an Administrative Assistant when I was actually a Production Assistant for a prime time news show. We rarely speak but I do thank him for being the best feminist-boot-camp Drill Sargent ever.
I am a PROUD feminist; a loud one, a proud one and a vocal one. I am the product of a misogynist and a feminist.
Photo credit: SassymamaHK