Today is my granddaughter's birthday. My granddaughter in Scotland, whose birthday party was cupcake-themed, who is a writer, one who, at eight, would like to have her own blog. For our birthday present, we sent a pet hospital with a family of tiny dalmatians, because she likes all things having to do with pets and also crafts.
Today I worked on a project, a little film about feminism, that arose for me when, a couple of years ago, a blogger I read, a young Mormon woman, wrote about feminism and concluded that she probably wasn't one. (She has since reconsidered and to some extent reversed this stance. I was outraged at the first stance and so gladdened by the second--kind of absurd. But still:) I began thinking about feminism because of this blogger, and my sense (like everyone else's of my generation) that young women feel that they're over feminism--it holds nothing for them, the world has moved on, its big injustices have been rectified, or something like that. So I took my camera to a family gathering and interviewed my sisters and daughters and nieces and aunt and mother.
I put all this footage in a Final Cut Express project maybe last summer. I tried to figure out what I would do with it. What would I have to say? what stuff of my own would I add? And more: why was I making this project? For whom?
Today, I worked with the footage, adjusting brightness and blur and saturation. I watched them all. When I looked at the face of my mother, in the thumbnail for the little video clip, I thought, for my mother, who said, yes, she was a feminist, and who, along with my father, gave me a sense of my worth. And for my father, too--his father and mother invested in the education of their daughters, an attitude he carried forward.
I listened to and smiled at what my sisters said, my sisters who have both worked, one a nurse, the other a teacher, their whole adult lives, and who are both mothers. For my sisters, who are smart and tough and inspiring, and for my aunt, who has been smart and sassy presence, just ten years older than me, so cool my whole life, a musician and a mom and, oh yeah, raised two excellent sons. She gave me a roar in her interview, as in I am woman, hear me.
It's when I think of my children that my questions matter more, at least to me. I want them to live in a whole world--not only their world, but wider and farther--where there's no need for feminism, because there are good laws and cultural mores, opportunity and fairness, and no fear or hatred of women. This world isn't that world, though. I remember when my daughter was born--the daughter that made me a mother, the one who's the mother of the birthday girl--how piercingly I felt all this. How much I wanted that better world, how utterly crucial it felt. In a very real way, becoming a mother was what sealed the deal for me.
Today, it's that better world that I long for, that the better part of me works for, for my daughters and sons, for their children--this is what makes me a feminist.
Happy birthday to Miriam, baby girl now eight years old, the one who made me a grandmother. I have hope for that better world in part because of you.