I suppose it never hit me that my mother instilled feminist ideals in my mind from the womb. She was already setting rules and regulations for her marriage long before I was ever born. It took a true instigator and woman with a voice to inform my father that she would not be cleaning up after him, she would not be waiting patiently at home for him, and no, she would not wait on him hand and foot. She wanted this marriage to have an equal say, and by god, she handles the balancing of checkbooks, paying the bills, and royally kicking ass for a family with the whoops child and a working class standing in society.
My mother’s assertions are not new, feminism grew long before her time with the start of the right to vote. It only grew as a second wave cascaded onto American society. She was born on the edge of the 1950’s, and my grandmother on both sides of the spectrum will still drop everything to make their husband dinner, take care of the phone calls to the family, and all around take the crap from their husbands. Not that I don’t love my grandfathers, but they need to learn a thing or two from feminism while they can.
My mother taught us all very quickly we would learn to clean up after ourselves, get an education, and go to work. The option was not to get married, have kids, and stay at home. Not that there is anything wrong with women who choose that lifestyle, we just did not have the class standing to even consider that life. Both my parents have always worked, and I plan to do the same. My mother never identifies with feminism, and never once has used the word. Maybe I am silly to think that feminism will ever seep its way into her mind, but damn she gave me a ground to stand on, a roof over my head, and the knowledge that I am my own woman, not to belong to or be ordered around by anyone.
Is it time to change her mind? I think about this as Thanksgiving rolls around. It is truly the “women’s holiday” at my house. We all get together while the women cook for hours from Wednesday morning on, the men go out to hunt for sport. No, they will not help with the cooking, and no, they will not offer. My brother and father are the only ones who stick around while the cousins go out to kill. My brother does not mind helping cook, clean, or generally take care of whatever task he is assigned. He does not think he is better than what is being given to him, and I take my mother’s teachings to heart. I wonder if my mother finally realized in her youth that she was handed the short end of the stick, or if her good ole independent thought transgressed her time for the better. Was it something to do with her class growing up that changed her mind? Or did it have to do with wanting to just be different? Yes, my mother is a feminist, although she has much to learn in the coming years about how to truly fight for her own equality, but I thank her each and every day for taking a stand in her marriage, and creating an equal footing for us all to observe through life.