A few years ago, I truly discovered the feminist within me. I wasn’t aware what it meant to be a feminist and to want equality. Growing up in Colombia there was no such thing and to this day the concept of equality in Colombia is a distant dream.
Growing up, most of the women I came across were housewives or housebound and very dependent on men. I grew up with my grandparents in a very macho and hierarchical environment where men took charge, made decisions and women had no say. Every day I witnessed my grandmother and aunties do house chores from the moment they woke up to the moment the dishes were done in the evening (and there were loads of dishes and no dishwasher)! I remember my aunty waking up an hour early to make coffee and breakfast before the men went to work as men never went to the kitchen!
I guess my first unknown brush with feminism was when my uncle told me to go iron his shirt at a very young age. I remember it so clearly. It enraged me but I felt like I couldn’t say much so I put the iron on, left it on top of his shirt to burn and proceeded to hide! 🙂
I am a feminist not because I am anti-men, opinionated, obnoxious, a lesbian or I want to be like a man. On the contrary, I’m girly, love pink and like to appreciate men. I appreciate people! I am a feminist because I believe in equal rights, because I believe that women should be able to choose the life they want to live without fear of judgment.
The older I got I noticed the double standards society has embedded in itself. I remember in my mid 20s I loved going out and dressing up but would always hear comments about women who go out at night wearing certain clothes are asking for trouble. I rebelled against such comments as I wore what I wanted regardless of what people thought or said (short or long).
Now in my thirties, I am able to see the inequality on a much bigger scale. At work I hardly see any women in meaningful leadership positions; I don’t just mean middle management but women who are at the table making decisions. As a mum I see it more starkly. My little girl complains that boys don’t let her play football because she’s a girl, I see little boys falling down and their parents tell them boys don’t cry. There are countless example of things that could be perceived as innocuous or meaningless (such as gender targeting in advertising) but they can have a huge impact on how fast equality happens and mentalities changed.
As a mother to a daughter, I feel the need to tell her every day that she can be whatever she wants to be. Most importantly I tell her that we are all equal. While our genders differentiate us we are all people, with feelings, hopes and dreams…
But I must be honest and say that feminism doesn’t come naturally to me, sometimes I have to force myself to stand up for the principles of sisterhood, I guess this comes from earlier cultural experiences but something that I am fighting for, learning about, teaching my daughter everyday…
Will keep you all posted as my views evolve 🙂