Today, I am responding to the #femfest day two questions at fromtwotoone.com. The questions are as follows:
What is at stake in this discussion? Why is feminism important to you? Are you thinking about your children or your sisters or the people that have come before you? Or, why do you not like the term? What are you concerned we’re not focusing on or we’re losing sight of when we talk about feminism? Why do you feel passionately about this topic?
To participate, write a post and link up here!
Feminism is vitally important to me as a human being, a woman, a teacher, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a wife. Feminism has given me a voice, a vote, a reason to hang up the apron, a way to work and have a husband and have kids should I choose to do so. Feminism has given me a choice.
I don’t mean that feminists have given me all of these things in the literal sense, though that is also true. What I mean is that the knowledge of what feminism is has empowered me to better understand my choices, and to make choices I would not have otherwise made.
To that end, feminism is important for me, but it is vital for my students. I am reminded of an article I wrote last year, “Personal Connections Empower Students”:
I stood in front of the class, introduced myself and told them a little bit about myself: I’m married, we have a dog, I like to cook—the usual. After this, they had to fill out a form and put my name on it, so I wrote it on the board: Ms. Samsa. A hand shot up in the air.
“But I thought you were married,” the student called out.
“I am,” I responded.
“So shouldn’t you be Mrs. Samsa?”
I told the class that I didn’t change my name when I got married, and I briefly explained the difference between Miss, Ms. and Mrs. Then, I noticed a hand raised in the back of the room. It belonged to a girl who hadn’t said a word all day. I called on her and she paused for a second to search for just the right words before asking, “You have a choice to keep your name when you get married? I didn’t know that.”
My students have the choices and empowerment feminism has given every woman since the movement started, but what good are those choices if they don’t know about them? Just as my feminism has evolved over time, theirs must, too, and it starts with being made aware of the fact that they don’t have to blindly follow societal norms. They don’t have to change their names or have babies or even get married if they don’t want to, no matter who tells them otherwise.
If I can teach one girl the importance of the choices they have – the choices feminism has allowed them to have – I will consider myself successful.