Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Gasp, Mom and Dad are Feminists!

Last night, my daughters were both working on posters for their history class.  One of my daughters was working on our personal computer, and once I got home, I pulled out my work laptop so we could do two projects at once.  

They were supposed to find an "Iconic American image", make a poster about it, write up a summary of what it is and why it's important and what it makes them think of.  

One of my daughters chose to do the nuclear bomb clouds from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  

My favorite line from her report was, "I think that America should not be proud of this bombing, but should use it as an example of how badly humans can destroy the world."  

She was almost done with her project when I got home.  I only watched her as she carefully taped down everything to her board. 

Iconic American Image: Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
Nuclear Bombing
By. S.C.K.

My other daughter chose to do Rosie the Riveter.  I dressed up as Rosie the Riveter last year for Halloween, which I think is why she finally decided on it.  I had told her a little about who I was last year, but I guess due to the sugar high, she didn't really get the whole concept.     

She had written the first few sentences of her report written, and it's pretty standard for my husband and I to ask our girls what words mean, just to make sure they can explain the concepts when they do their presentations.  

"Alright, read me the first sentence."

My daughter carefully reads, "Rosie the Riveter is an iconic image that represents feminism and women's economic power."  She looks at me expecting me to just have her continue on.   

"Cool.  Do you know what feminism is?"

With a deep look of concentration she says, "Uh...'re like... a female...and you...uh..." she smiles, knowing she's busted. She has no clue.  

Her sister jumps in, "Ooh! Is it when... someone is against you because you're a girl or a woman or whatever?"
"Nope. Do you want me to tell you?"

My daughter tries again, "No... is it when someone is against you because you're feminine?"

"No, it's not a bad thing." I say, trying to nudge her in the right direction.  "What?" she says, confused.  

I tell her, "I'm a feminist." and her eyes grow wide.  Then I tell her, "Your dad's also a feminist." She looks absolutely shocked, she's scandalized.  I can see her world crashing down behind her eyes as she tries to make sense of what I've just told her.  

"Sweetie, you know the word racist, right?" Her eyes are still wide and she has a sad look of confusion, "Yes..." "What does it mean?" "It means you hate somebody just because of what race they are."

"Yes, but the word 'feminist' doesn't follow the same rule as the word racist.  In fact, it means kind of the opposite.  A feminist is just a person who believes in feminism... Do you want me to tell you what feminism is?" 

Slowly she nods, so I tell her, "Feminism is just the simple concept that men and women are equal." 

"That's it?!" she yells, confused. "But...what? That's...wait...who doesn't believe that men and women aren't equal?" 

"Sadly, a lot of people." 

"Really?  That's crazy! That's stupid." 

As soon as she realized that piece of the puzzle, she began to understand the Rosie the Riveter concept a little more and she was excited to write her report. 

Iconic Image: Rosie the Riveter
By. A.C. K. 

To be honest, it was late when she finished her project, it was just past midnight when I finally said, "Print what you have and put it on your poster board." 

In the morning, as my entire family still slept, I saw their posters on the kitchen table.  I took photos of them so I could look at them a little more closely once I was fully awake.  Sometimes school projects end up staying at school or in the trunk of a car, or they come home damaged, so I take a lot of pictures of my daughters' school projects in the early mornings when everyone is still in bed.  

I actually didn't intend on sharing the photos.  

I slept on the shuttle ride in to work.  I was completely exhausted.  I immediately jumped into work before I even got to my office and set my stuff down.  

I plugged in my laptop to my docking station and started printing stuff out I needed for a meeting later in the morning.  

I went to the printer to retrieve my print job and I found these: 

And this:

Rosie the Riveter
Rosie the Riveter is an iconic image that represents feminism and women’s economic power. Feminism is the idea that women and men should be treated as equals.
Rosie the Riveter isn’t a real person. Rosie the Riveter was used in ad campaigns to get women to start working. The government said that it was a “patriotic duty” for women to enter the work force. That meant that if you were a patriot, you should start working. This convinced many women to start working.
Most of the men were in the wars during WWII, so there was no one to make things such as guns and other things for the men other than the women, which is why they were now told to start working. Even though the women were allowed to work in factories now, they were given less pay than the men. At a wartime plant it was about $54.65 for men and $31.50 for women (per week). The women accepted it because the other option was to stay at home and not earn any money at all.
At first, women were only allowed to be receptionists, secretaries, and other things like that. Then the government had women work in factories. After the war, when the men came back, some women went back to these jobs because the men told them to or they didn’t think of it as a patriotic duty anymore, but some women kept their jobs at the factories. This opened up many opportunities for women.

My daughter had tried to print her finished report from my work laptop, which isn't hooked up to our home printer.  We had a small moment of panic before we realized that we had printed from my work computer.  We saved it on a flash drive and printed again from our personal computer. 

I guess the print job on my work laptop wasn't ever cancelled, because it immediately processed the print job, the minute I connected to the server at work.  

I sat and read my daughter's report two or three times in my office.  I looked at the photos and just sat thinking about how crazy it is that my daughters are growing up not fully understanding the ins and outs of gender inequality.  

I suppose it's a good thing.  The world is changing.  Women can wear pants. Women can vote. Women can own land and businesses.  Women can have jobs.  Women can go to college. Women can join the military.  Women can divorce their husbands.  Soon women will be able to legally marry (or divorce) either their husband or their wife.  

Women still don't always receive equal pay. Women still aren't fully represented in our justice system.  Women do not have the same opportunities open to them.  We still haven't had a female president, and we're still talking about Hilary's bad hair days.  Women are still discriminated against, bullied, abused, raped and murdered, because they're women.     

But the world is changing.  

The world is changing and now my 12 year old daughter can't imagine a world where those types of things are acceptable.  

She laughs at the idea of me "obeying" her dad.  She knows as well as anybody that I do what I want and my husband loves me for that. 

I posted the report and the pictures up on my wall at work.  

Anytime I had a free minute today, I imagined the look on my daughter's face when I told her I was a feminist.  

The world is changing.  

Maybe one day, people will learn what the word 'feminism' means and stop treating it like it's a bad word.  

Maybe one day, people won't react to the word, 'feminism' like my 12 year old daughters did, because they thought it has something to do with inexplicable hate. 

Maybe one day we won't need the word, 'feminism', because, of course we're equal.  


  1. I love this!
    By the sound of it, you and your husband are doing a great job raising your daughters.
    It is true about women still being abused and the men scaring them into being docile without their consent. (not always but in most cases)
    I say this because sadly, my sister is one of them.
    No matter how hard one tries to help; it doesn't work because they become brainwashed.
    Anyhow, Great Work!! :)
    p.s. I was only able to "Publish" my comment as Anonymous, because the other options were giving me problems.

  2. Wow Gabby! this has so enriched my day. Thanks!