Thank you Beyonce for populating my running track with a fantastic back-beat and empowering lyrics (though I’m not really keen on your video…)! It would seem that this is a year for women to remember and reclaim the power that comes from being female. And what better day to talk about it than International Women’s Day.
International women’s day-Be Bold for change
Be Bold for Change is the theme of International Women’s Day 2017. I can own this. I am a feminist. I did not take my husband’s surname. I took my daughter to the London Women’s March to protest against a president who thinks it’s okay to denigrate women.
In 2017, we can be bold. We are bold. We will change the world for the better.
In the 1940’s being bold was a little different. It was a little different in the 1980’s too. And who knows what it will be like in the 2030’s.
These time-lines are all important to me because they are the time-lines that belong to some of the strongest women I know.
Four Generations of women
The picture that you see above is a picture of four generations of my family: My Grandma, My Mom, Me and My Daughter. I like to think that it is also symbolic in that we all hold each other up. Women should do that for each other.
We have a book in our house that is one of the best books ever written: Rad American Women A-Z. The ladies in this book are game changers. World changers.
The Four Generations in my family are not in this book. But I think that we are Rad American Women too. Here’s why:
My Grandma was a 4’11”, white-haired dynamo that few will forget. Born in the 1920s amongst 7 brothers, her mom died when she was only 15.
For someone so small, she towered above anyone who dared get in her way or dared to cross her family. She was a nurse and unlike many women in her generation, she was off to work in the 1950s. She didn’t stop working until she was 90 and when they tried to down-size and ‘let her go’, she refused. They didn’t try that again.
She raised four girls and oversaw the raising of her 9 grandchildren, even from afar. She had her hair done every Friday and her nails manicured every other week. I cannot ever remember seeing my grandma without a manicure (and she delighted in the names of her favourite OPI colours!).
In her later years, she was a regular attender at Chicago’s Pride Parade and a senior-citizen advocate for my brother’s political campaigns. She threw herself into everything with 110%.
And when it was her time to go, that was that. We weren’t ready to say goodbye but as ever, she was utterly in charge. What a woman!
I’m sure my mom has often wondered how in the world she could live up to her own mother’s example. But she doesn’t need to because she is her own example of a Rad American Woman. Also a nurse, she supported the family whilst she and my dad were getting their business off the ground in the 1970s. And once they were stable, she chose to stay at home with her three children whilst my dad worked insane hours making the business a success. Please note: all of these were things were her own choices. Because feminism is about having the choice.
Little did she know, she was setting a feminist example for the three of us every day. It started with small things, like her declaring that she loathed Jennifer Rush’s The Power of Love because she felt that ‘That woman should get on with her life and not whine about being some man’s lady’. And baking an enormous Equal Rights Amendment cake for the National Organisation of Women in the 1980s. As we got older, we discovered that she was a bit of a leftie and even a bit of a hippy.
My mom is a protester and an advocate for equality in all things. She has marched in the Chicago Pride Parade, the Chicago Women’s March and has been a picketer for industrial action on behalf of nurses.
My mom ended up raising three feminists (two of them are my brothers), ensuring that the next generation has positive role models for equality and acceptance.
I’m not sure that she knows this about herself. Because she’s a woman and very busy running her world.
I was a complete and utter tomboy as a child. I still bear a grudge against my mom who wouldn’t let me have bedsheets with football helmets on them because she liked the Holly Hobby selection (they were yellow and matched the rest of my room).
I remember my mom and my aunt signing my cousin and I up for a ‘Modelling’ class at our local park-district. This awful catastrophe involved us learning how to take a Movie Star Bath; how to get out of a car like a lady and it culminated in a Modelling Show where we could all choose a theme for our ‘Look’. All the other girls wore pretty little dresses and carried parasols for the opening act of ‘Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head’. I, on the other hand, decided to be Miss Sports. My look involved a pair of sweat pants pulled up to my knees, a baseball shirt and instead of a parasol…yep, I carried an aluminum baseball bat.
So my path was set from an early age and I haven’t diverted from that. It is part of my nature to buck trends and much to my daughter’s dismay, I wear jeans pretty much every single day. This is me. I can live with it.
So, knowing all of this about me, you will appreciate the irony of my having a daughter who delighted in frilly clothes from a young age and is obsessed with having her ears pierced and wearing make-up. I can’t really figure any of this out myself.
But what I do know is that my girl is fierce and has a strong sense of justice. I think this can be best summed up with a little story:
My brother, one of the aforementioned feminists, sent Minnie-Sue a book about Rosa Parks and the power of civil disobedience (when she was 4!). Minnie-Sue took the idea of discrimination and injustice completely to heart. So when my brother and his husband came to visit one summer, we decided to grab a drink in a pub in Folkestone. By this time, Minnie-Sue could read and she was incensed by a sign in the pub which stated that children were not welcome.
She demanded to know how this could be possible and how this pub had the right to discriminate in such a way when the likes of Rosa Parks had campaigned for equality for all people all those years ago.
This outburst delighted my brother and I immeasurably.
Who knows what the future holds. But I know that my girl has a strong moral compass, compassion, and a very loud voice. So whatever comes, she will be ready to face it!
International Women’s Day-Women rock
As I get older, I value the women in my life more and more. And as my own life-experience increases, I appreciate more the struggles that women have and the difficulties they overcome.
Sometimes it feels like society and the media try to divide women; pit us against each other; make us feel like other women are the competition. But I think that we are better than that. As women, we prop each other up and share knowledge, experience, and encouragement.
So I urge you to do one thing to support another woman. Not just today, on International Women’s Day, but every day. Because, girls:
We run this mother!
Tell me about the women in your life in the comments below!