Holden Beach, NC Photo by Barbara Mattio
Women are not born feminists. Some are born tom boys, some are girly, some are born strongly principled. Some girls have a deep spiritual longing.
So then, what makes a feminist? Life creates feminists. Lovers bring joy, happiness and relationship to life. Some of them not only break hearts, they break our trust. Some of them break an arm or a rib or perhaps,”just” tell us we are nothing.
Women grow up and most go to college and some find that some professors don’t like women students. Some women have to be subjected to sexual harassment . Some women are bullied because they aren’t pretty enough or they are smarter than many of the males in class.
Women sometimes get all dolled up and go out with the girls. Some men think this means they are prey and stalk until they can go in for the kill.
All women realize that today we make $.77 for every dollar a man makes. For the same work. In addition, some must work in a hostile workplace.
I became a feminist because of some of the above scenarios and because I read a lot of history. I became aware that women have always been treated as possessions. Women have “needed” to be owned and controlled. I began reading about the European witch trials and found out that millions of women and children were horribly murdered because their knowledge of herbs and knowing which ones to use for healing made them different. This was a very serious matter if the was no man around to keep her in check. You could be in trouble for being good with animals. Today, we call that being a dog whisperer. or a horse whisperer. It used to mean you were a witch.
When I wanted to have a tubal ligation to prevent further pregnancy I had to bring a paper home from the doctor. This was 1972. My husband had to sign it for me to have the surgery. It was my own body. It belonged to me. But society didn’t see it that way, it belonged to him.
Have you ever gone shopping and hid what you purchased in the trunk? Did then later on sneak it into the house and your closet? That is the sneakiness that develops when we don’t have our own money and are not allowed to make our own choices.
We have gotten past the part where women are not encouraged to go to college unless it was to find a husband. Many women today have advanced degrees and still make less than a man or the same work and same degree. Women continue to be the minority in math and the sciences yet millions are capable to earning degrees in math and science.
Young women today don’t understand that they are entitled to be an equal partner in their relationships. They have the right to make their own money, to practice contraception and to have sex only when they want it. They don’t have to cooperate with their partner unless they wish to.
“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But, still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I dedicate this blog to all of the oppressed peoples in the world. I especially dedicate it to those who have died due to hatred and violence. We won’t give up or go back!
Holden Beach, NC Photo by Barbara Mattio