To jump right into things here, I would have to say that I grew up being raised by two feminists, though they may not necessarily label themselves as such. My grandmother and my mother are two of the strongest, most independent women that I have ever met. Both were left to raise their children on their own at a young age. They both worked hard to provide for their families without any help from the men that contributed to the creation of their children. And both my grandmother and my mother were successful at being independent single mothers in each of their situations. So I grew up with these strong women as role models for what it means to be a woman. And grew up thinking that women were equals to men because in my family the women worked just as hard as anyone else. To be completely honest, there were many years there in the beginning of my life where we were almost an anti-man family; let’s just say that we listened to a lot of Alanis Morissette and Tina Turner, and such. And even when my grandmother remarried followed shortly by my mother, it took me years to get adjusted to these male presences in my life. However, the addition of these men into our family dynamic did nothing to waver the power and strength of my grandma and mom–that is to say that the women still wear the pants in our family. But I digress.
Essentially, I was brought up as a sort of feminist from birth. And I thank my mom and my grandmother every day for instilling that kind of girl power within me. I also count myself lucky because I’ve never had any real struggle with discrimination or anything because of my apparent sex or gender. I mean, I have grown up in the south, and so I’ve always been exposed to the typical male-dominant customs. But these types of things are so small that they almost went unnoticed; things like boys not being allowed to hit girls simply because they are girls, and boys can’t play with girl toys just as girls can’t play with boy toys, etc. In fact, I remember one time dressing up my male sibling in a dress and a hat, just for fun, and my step-dad freaked out because no son of his was going to be a queer. Just little situations like that throughout my life that went unnoticed by me at the time because I was so conditioned to think that boys are girls are so innately different. And then as I grew older and began reflecting on these things, I truly realized how normalized male dominance is even still in our modern day life. Sure women have rights and everything, but we are still far from being treated completely as equals to men. But see, here is where I am sort of torn on how I really feel about equality between the sexes, which is why I hope that studying feminism more intimately might help to shed some light on the subject for my own understanding. On the one, more obvious, hand I feel like of course there should be complete equality among the sexes; a woman can do anything a man can do. But on another hand I also feel like there are obvious physical differences between the sexes in most cases (granted I know that some people are able to blur these lines in more ways than others…), and that these differences are almost necessary. This whole notion and current confusion on the matter came about once I gave birth to my first born recently. It’s no secret that my husband physically could not have carried the child just as he could not nourish her in the same way that I can because our bodies are hardwired differently. And maybe that difference is necessary because we sort of act as counterparts to this whole little life that we created. I don’t know…needless to say I am a little lost right now.
Apart from my early life influences, I was formally introduced to Feminists movements in college. Sure there were mentions of the waves of feminism in certain history and sociology classes, but it wasn’t until I started taking my upper level courses that I really got a taste for feminists works, such as those that we will be discussing here. And these encounters with feminism have usually been as a critical theory, but with a dose of the history behind the works to sort of ground me in the social or political movements involved with the texts. And I suppose that’s what brings me here taking a course in feminists critical theory–I would like to spend more time with the subject, rather than just reviewing it in passing in other courses. I fully expect to have my already existent ideas of feminism to be validated throughout the semester as I read new sources and re-visit old ones. And I believe that this course is coming along at a critical time in our country’s history with all of the recent social and political events. Many people are saying that feminism is out-dated or no longer necessary because women “already have rights” and that those of us who feel strongly about the subject are just silly attention seekers. Well, I’m hoping that in taking this course I might have a little more ammunition to use to defend myself against these negative people who only see the surface of a situation, because I have been unable to effectively convey my point of view on these matters at this particular time when I am living in an area, a town, a home in which I am outnumbered when it comes to social and political views. So, in short, I am really just looking for some answers for myself and for my world.