Wednesday, July 25, 2012

For my daughters.

[cue: ]

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.


  1. Loved this so much. Sheonagh and I were talking about how awesome it was.

  2. I want to see what you make of this! We can eat eggs with salsa verde and talk about great feminist moms!

  3. Such a beautiful post.

  4. Amen! I look at my nieces and think about how awesome they are and hope that they can be leaders of women and work hard to promote fairness and improve the overall attitude towards women. I'll never forget holding Nellie, Lana's daughter, when she was a few days old and promising myself that I will always make her feel that she has worth and is special in my eyes. I think that is a small thing we can do to make a big difference--build up the women around us, young and old because let's face it, women RULE!

  5. This is an amazing post. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. I hope you will make this film viewable somehow. I want so much to see it. Though I would like to hear your friend, too. Wondering if there's something more interesting than Stepfordism or head-in-the-sanding in the irritation some smart and strong young women have with "feminisim." Wondering if some of the reasons overlap with Alice Walker's rejection of the term in favor of "womanist". For myself, I've been identified and worn the label of feminist all my adult life -- it's close enough to right and not worth quibbling over. But it does feel an inadequate term -- not because all the real ills are addressed, not because that struggle was silly or pointless. I just keep coming up with the sense of it feeling an inadequate term, insufficient. For me.



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