It took a man to show me equality is my right
I am a full-fledged feminist. Ta-da! I didn’t reach this point of inner conviction from any contribution from my childhood. It was through life experience, higher education and self-learned exploration that I truly discovered the meaning of “Feminism.” My early childhood and education speak volumes about the societal position of gender role indoctrination.
From pink bows to heart shaped lollipops, pink frills to personal body shame, I was given the full gender role indoctrination. There was no need for a handbook – it just was, how a lady should be behave. It was a fool’s errand, a battle none of us exactly won. It was just a pink cupcake mold that was way too small to fit the entire person I was. I spent my entire childhood competing with “boys.” I would be a boy. I would be as good as a boy. My dad had conceived two daughters trying to make a “boy.” He never felt shy to express that we were here because of his attempt to have a son, to carry his name. I was merely a faulty attempt at being a boy.
I remember asking him “Daddy, why can’t I carry on your name?”
“Well, daughter,” he mused. He never called me by my name – I am still to this day, daughter. “One day, you will get married – your children will carry his name”.
This stung like a bee sting.
I gave birth to my first son out of wedlock. I gave him my father’s name. My brother never had children. I carried on my father’s name. I fought against societal indoctrination of gender roles at times to my own misfortune. If I would do it, it would be my way. I refused to marry because it was expected of me. As a single young adult, I had primarily all male friends and often won burping contests in the name of being equal! If it was masculine, it was powerful – I desired equality long before I understood what it was. My mother would often take me to the abortion clinics to hold picket signs. I was adamantly anti-feminism. “Don’t have sex until you’re married” summed the extent of my knowledge. I was never told about reproductive health and rights. I was never informed about birth control, STDs, or how I would one day be viewed as a sexual object rather than an equal. So, it wasn’t surprising some guy whispered in my ear and I ended up with a baby nine months later and cervical cancer five years after that. It wasn’t until years later that I was asked a question by an activist who was also a gay man.
It changed my false perception of feminism that I had ignorantly been allowed to conceive.
This new-found gay “feminist,” I was at first assured, was a man out of his mind! This man fought for his own rights and he was fighting the silence of mine! Feminism was just a bunch of women trying to be men! That’s what I heard everyone say! He only had to ask me one question for the fight to make sense. If you choose to vote pro-life, he asked, are you prepared to lose the rights over their own bodies women fought to obtain for years? The question stirred inside me, it raged against everything I was taught to believe. It haunted me until I stood to accept it.
It was his adamant truth that spoke to me.
I fought my own father to be seen as an equal, I fought society to not have gender roles dictated to me and of course I would take a stand for all of my rights to choose. I may have never made the choice, but the simple choice is only mine to make. It’s not about what one sees as right or wrong. It is about being able to decide and choose what is right for one’s own path. Yes, of course, I would take a stand like so many women who stood before me. Like the stand Karen Horney herself made, I, too would stand. The voices of the strong women of the past, the present and the ones to come in the future will become so loud it will not withstand being heard. The grandest echoing will be the cry of equality for all men and women when it is heard from every nation, far and wide.
I will never forget, with a chuckle of delight, it took a man, after all, to show me, equality is my right.