Page 70: Feminist Friday Feat. Cammie

This is part of a long series of posts which will be known as Feminist Fridays. Because individuality is at the heart of feminism, I’m going to open up this space to a different person each week to share with us a little portion of their unique journey.
Catch up with previous Feminist Friday posts here.

I met Cammie in a bar, maybe 4 or 5 years ago. She was outgoing and quick to offer a handshake and a smile and a conversation. She knew who I was because she had recognized me from Facebook. I did not know who she was but I wanted to know her and be friends with her right away. As with most people that I consider some of my closest friends, I held that friend crush silently for a long, long time and never saw her again. Until a few months ago. And I’ll never let her go, now.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself, Cammie!
My name is Cammie. I’m from Hutchinson, KS. I’m married to a great guy name Mike. We have a 1 year old genius named Roosevelt. I work in the mental health field. Being outside is what helps me feel relaxed and happy.

How long have you known that you were a feminist? Did/ do you have any misgivings about adopting that label?

I have always been a feminist. I think my mother would agree that I’ve always been counter-culture, and I was never one to settle for “that’s the way it is.” In grade school, I was an advocate by talking too much in class. In high school, I was an advocate by experimenting with drugs and pop punk, in college I was an advocate by studying social movements and becoming an ally to myself. And also by, yes, finally adopting the label of FEMINIST. I love the term because I love the movement. I believe in the movement. I have no shame about labeling myself a feminist.

So if you’ve always been a feminist–which I think is awesome–is there anything that your mom did to kind of nurture it? I wonder how you just had that natural inclination that, at least in this part of the country, seems really hard to come by.

My mother didn’t know what to do with me I don’t think. My mom was a single mother for the majority of my childhood. Her and my dad’s divorce was tumultuous, and, looking back, that must’ve really formed a lot of my identity and my independent nature. The role that my mother played in my life by nature of being a child of divorce really asked her to show her children what it was like to be independent and just really tough. I also think, though, that my mom was really scared that I was a little too out there. I think she probably did a lot to reign me in. You’d have to ask her I guess. But after all, I think she’s proud of me and who I’ve become. She’s still a little scared of me, though.

Can you think of a situation that really stood out as a defining moment regarding feminism in your life?

The most radically feminist moment of my life so far has been giving birth to my son, Roosevelt. The birth symbolized the physical beginning of the feminist process of parenting. I can talk waaaayyy more about that.

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Dude, yes! Talk to me more and more and more about parenting! I love seeing the way you parent. Is there anything that you’re being very intentional about with Roosevelt? And on the other side of the coin, I wonder if there is anything that you’ve noticed in the way you parent that wasn’t necessarily a part of the plan but seems to be doing well for you and your husband?

I am being pretty intentional in being myself. We both want our son to believe in justice and to use his privilege to create more equality. My husband is really involved with the labor union movement; I think it’s really important to him to use that as a teaching tool for our son. It’s his advocacy. For me, my paid work and my volunteer work are both teaching tools. They are conversation builders, and they are opportunities to show our son what it means to be an ally in your own community. I can also say that having a kid really forces us to put our money where our mouths are, so to speak. The way that Mike and I interact really needs to be equitable because Roosevelt is watching. We aren’t always great at it, but we are working on it, and that’s really important.

Hmm… I guess my answer to the second half of your question is that literally nothing about parenting is the way I thought it would be. Everything is a surprise. Everything is shocking. And it’s all great.

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What does Feminism look like in your practical, day-to-day life?

Feminism works in my life by being the lens through which I see the world. Some people have religion, some people have politics, I have feminism. It colors the choices I make. It informs my decisions. It answers my parenting questions. It teaches me about what kind of partner I want to be to my husband. I make the wrong decisions a lot, but I know that feminism is the answer to who I am and who I want to be.

I love the way that you said, “I know that feminism is the answer to who I am and who I want to be.” So, who do you want to be?

I just wanna be me, man! But seriously. I don’t know. I wanna be a good person who cares about people and works intentionally on making things better for people. Feminism is my vehicle. And the thing that I love about feminism is that it’s so much more than recognizing sexism. It’s about recognizing the impact of all kinds of privilege. And working intentionally on dismantling that. Unpacking it. Digging out the disgusting ways that imperialist-white supremacist-classist-patriarchy (Bell Hooks; look her up if you are looking for a great introduction to feminist thought) works in our lives.

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I love the way that you say it is “so much more than recognizing sexism. It’s about recognizing the impact of all kinds of privilege.” I’ve heard anti-feminists say that Feminism is just an organized group of complainers who don’t want to work hard for things in life. But, to me, Feminism has never ever been about pointing out what I don’t have, but taking notice of the privilege and the voice that I do have and finding a way to use it in a way that betters as many people as possible.

Do you want to tell us a little about how feminism plays a role in your professional life? Yeah, I’d love to talk about that because I’m really lucky in that my feminism is more or less welcomed in my line of work. I currently work for a community mental health center in a program that addresses the connections between mental and physical health for individuals that live with severe and persistent mental illness. That’s a lot of words.
What I tell people in conversation is that my job is to make sure people are as healthy as they can be. The program is a Medicaid service called Health Home. (What’s unfortunate is that this program will be discontinued, effective June 30 of this year. What our society typically fails to realize is that prevention is such an important part of treatment. A mentor of mine in college would always say, “we can’t keep just mopping up the blood,” and that is so true. Anyway. I digress.)

I’m encouraged in the mental health field to work on treating the whole person. We provide client-centered treatment. We provide trauma-informed treatment. We provide culturally-relevant treatment. And if we can’t do those things, we refer them to a place that honors who they are. Having an ethical foundation in feminism is part of what makes me good at my job. It’s not like I go around telling all the people I work with that I’m recommending this or that because it’s just and will create a more equitable, safe world. It silently informs my choices at work.

Cammie was also recently asked to be on the Women’s Studies Career Panel at K-State this Spring! Which is so cool.

The KSU thing is great. I’m excited about it. It’s a presentation provided by the KSU Women’s Studies department for students who are or potentially want to major/minor in Women’s Studies. I majored in it. One of my professors that kind of mentored me throughout college sent me an email asking what I was up to professionally these days. I responded telling her about my work (paid and unpaid work (thanks, WOMST, for being a community that cares about the unpaid work)) and she quickly asked if I’d be interested in sitting on the panel. The point of the whole thing is to give students a look into what kind of future they’ll have with the discipline. Which can be a rich one. Parents worried your children are wasting their education away: take heed.

If you could say one thing about feminism to a large group of people, what would you choose to say?

Feminism is for everyone! Also I’d real quick be like, you are awesome and worthwhile…feminism agrees!

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Everyone—thank you for reading!
As always, if you have any questions or thoughts or would like to be interviewed yourself, either include them in the comments section or email me: libby(at)xoxolib.com.

XOXO, Lib

Page 68: Feminist Friday Feat. Kat

This is part of a long series of posts which will be known as Feminist Fridays. Because individuality is at the heart of feminism, I’m going to open up this space to different people each week to share with us a little portion of their unique journey.

So, I (Libby) moved to this little-ish town in the middle of Kansas nearly seven years ago. I didn’t have any friends in this town. I only knew my brother, my sister-in-law, and my neighbor (now my husband, actually). And for about a year these were all the friends that I had. Which was wonderful, don’t get me wrong. But I had a need for community. And boy did I go to the wellspring for it.

Kat is the first friend that I made on purpose in this town and through her, my life has grown this whole entire garden of friendships and relationships and experiences that I would never know if I hadn’t gathered all of my courage one day and sent her a Facebook message that, essentially, said, “You’rereallyprettyandcoolandsofunnyontheinternet. Do you want to be my friend????” And then for some reason she was like, “You don’t seem terrifying. Yeah ok!” And I’m grateful for her every day.

And you will be, too.

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Do you want to tell the people a little about yourself, Kat? Katherine G. Hurl lives in McPherson, Kansas with her two dogs. She is currently in training for her dream job of  ‘Queen of the World’ which she hopes to see come to fruition in her lifetime (even though she would settle for it being awarded posthumously). Beautiful. Thank you for that.

How long have you identified as a feminist? Not very long at all. I feel like I am the tiniest of all baby feminists! I started leaning towards feminism about a year ago and it’s grown even more so in the last 6 months.

Can you think of a situation in your life that really stood out as a defining moment regarding feminism in your life? As far as a “defining moment” goes, there are SO MANY. My journey towards feminism began early last year after a long relationship came to particularly nasty end. My self-esteem was already low but the end of that relationship really broke me down to nothing. I started reading quotes by strong women (especially Amy Poehler because she could make me laugh) and it got me PUMPED UP. I started to realize my worth. I’d never seen it presented in such a way and it really opened my eyes to all the injustices I’d either been subjected to or had subjected my own self to for so long. I had accepted so much of it as “just the way things are” when I should’ve been standing up for myself and other women. The one quote that hit me between the eyes the most was one that said something to the effect of “You’re not being sensitive- he’s just being an asshole.” I think I literally got off my couch and swung my fists in the air. 😛 My whole life I’d been branded “too sensitive” and told just to be quiet and not to make waves. Now I just want to roar all over the place.

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What makes you roar? So many topics. I don’t like men telling women what to do. I don’t like members of a religion telling other members of other religions what to do. I don’t like women telling other women what to do, and I CERTAINLY object to law makers trying to tell me what I can and cannot do with my own reproductive system or (more recently) trying to tell me what to wear, even. I object to the idea that if I go to a party in a miniskirt, I’m “asking for it” or have less to offer in a conversation or IQ test. The system is jacked up and we need to stand up and make sure future generations stand this racist and sexist system on its head.

Going back to “I don’t like women telling other women what to do”, I hate that we’re so ingrained to see other women as the enemy. I hate that jealousy is such an overwhelming feeling. We blame the “other woman” or “side chick” when men or our own psyches are setting us up against each other. It’s easier to hate on other women than to blame the men we “love” for being assholes. What’s up with that?
Oh man, you make me want to throw out a round of applause! I wish that translated well to text.

image4 What does Feminism look like in your practical, day-to-day life? Well, since finally getting a grasp on my self worth, I met a wonderful man and he has changed my day-to-day life in so many ways. It sounds cheesy but I truly would not be in this relationship if I had not gone on this journey. He gives me the room to truly be myself and a soft place to land when and if I need it. He never puts me down–which is life changing for me.

I’m still a work in progress. I stand up for myself more (especially at work) and I don’t put myself down nearly as much. I’m still working on my self-deprecating sense of humor- it’s pretty much ingrained into my being at this point.  And I’m learning how to say the word “no”. “NO!!” Can you imagine? Me ever saying no? I find myself not apologizing for my opinions. So MUCH of my life has been me presenting my opinion and tacking “…is that ok?” on the end.  I do not need the validation of others for I find validation in the love and the spirit God has given me. I just sat on it for so long that I didn’t even know it was there.

I love what you had to say here. Particularly the way that you said that your relationship wouldn’t exist without having done so much work on yourself and not the other way around. A lot of times we’re told, “Get in a good relationship and everything will fall into place!” But I’m not hearing you say that’s your story. That is definitely what we are fed. That’s what the movies say, so it must be true!! (nope) That was not my story at all. I knew I was a mess and needed to change before what I really NEEDED could walk into my life. I had to get over my hurt and hating men and my “I can do this on my own” attitude. Yes, I CAN do it on my own but it’s amazing to have someone in my life who WANTS to help me. It’s been a learning experience to LET him help me.

 

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This is Kat and her nephew, Max. They are beautiful twins.

Let’s not skip over “finally getting a grasp on my self-worth” by any means. I know that involved a lot of work–it’s not as easy as flipping a switch. What does self-care look like for you? Self-care involves a lot of slowing down and saying “no” for me. I’m such a people pleaser and I let my perception of myself get wrapped up in my ability to take care of others expectations. If someone was disappointed in me, I would agree with them and hate myself instead of telling them to take charge of their own feelings and expectations. I have to make sure I’m a priority, which is hard for me because I have been so ingrained with “don’t be selfish!” when in reality, self-care and selfishness are two completely different things. Trust me, it’s better for EVERYONE in the long run if I take time for myself. Sometimes I literally just lay on my bed or floor and stare at my ceiling fans and pray for God to remind me of what really matters or to help me prioritize things. Just taking a few minutes to breathe or meditate can do WONDERS for me. I am valuable. I am a child of God. I am not what others think of me. (Look in the mirror and repeat that several times. I dare you to not get pumped up.) Yes! Hold on one sec I just want to say this a little bit louder for the people in the back, “self-care and selfishness are two completely different things“!

If you could say one thing about this topic to a large group of people, what would you choose to say? Feminism is not a dirty word. It’s not offensive and we shouldn’t be scared to label ourselves as feminists. Stop being ignorant and look up the definition of “feminism” in the dictionary. No one should find anything even remotely offensive there. We’re not asking to be raised above men and we’re not asking for men to lower themselves. We’re asking to be treated as equals. Men and women have different strengths, yes, but no strength is better than another. They’re all valuable and WE’RE all valuable.

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What’s on your Treat Yourself list? Pizza. Lots of pizza. Pedicures. A nice glass of moscato and a bubble bath. A warm, fuzzy robe. Quiet dogs. Movie theater popcorn. Going to the movies is one of my very favorite things to do. Especially at the Warren when you can push a button and people bring you whatever you want. I am a simple girl of simple wants.

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Everyone—thank you for reading!
As always, if you have any questions or thoughts or would like to be interviewed yourself, either include them in the comments section or email me: libby(at)xoxolib.com.

XOXO, Lib

Page 66: Feminist Friday feat. Katelin!

This is part of a long series of posts which will be known as Feminist Fridays. Because individuality is at the heart of feminism, I’m going to open up this space to different people each week to share with us a little portion of their unique journey.

The day that I met Katelin, I was briefly intimidated by her beautiful hair, her easy, brilliant vocabulary and her ass-kicking boots that she wears nearly everywhere she goes (I say “briefly” because I quickly learned that she is an ally and not an enemy to me or anyone else). She’s a vision of strength and vulnerability—comfort and bravery. In the past few years as our friendship has grown I have grown as well. She knows how to hold other people up and she knows how to hold herself up as well—and when she needs help, she’s not afraid to ask for it.
One particularly rough day, Katelin reached out via-Facebook to a few of her favorite women. I was lucky enough to be on that list. We all communicated on that message thread for a few days before it was decided to start a group and that’s where our Facebook Feminist group began. Through this group, I have learned the importance of validation and affirmation and I’m generous with it, now. All that to say, I have a lot of thanks to offer to Katelin for some of my most favorite things about my life and personality. So here we go–hold onto your hats.

So, Katelin! Wanna tell us a little about yourself? Alrighttttt, so I’m Katelin. Libby and I have the same middle name. I go to school at Wichita state, and I’m a bartender. So I study psychology both academically and professionally. I live with my rabbit named Spock and I’m not doing justice to him if I don’t include a picture of him. He’s the fucking cutest. I’m learning the cello, I’m learning Turkish, I like to read, and I do a movie podcast with my friends that can be found by searching Hivemind on the iTunes podcast library, or here.
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How long have you known that you were a feminist? Did you have any misgivings about adopting that label? I came into my own as a feminist around the time that I started college. I went to an incredibly conservative, Baptist school for my first couple of years and that conservatism manifested itself in ways that I didn’t yet understand but made me uncomfortable. For instance, on one of my first nights in the dorms, my RA told me that I had to attend a secret event, and that all she could tell me was that I needed to “look as cute as possible, maybe wear a skirt.” All of the freshman women were lined up on the lawn while the boys from other dorms paraded by with flowers, serenading us and giving flowers to the one’s they liked best. Despite the protests of my RA, I left the event and went back to my dorm and just cried. (I just want to interject, here and say that an almost identical situation happened to me in my first week of college at a similar type of school! I thought it was weird at the time but now I’m just very hopeful that it’s not, like, standard procedure on Christian campuses? Hoping it was just two very specific flukes. Ok, go on, Katelin. Sorry to interrupt.)

Luckily, I was involved in college debate, a notoriously academic and liberal subculture, that helped me put words to the things I was seeing around me; sexism. It also helped me realize that I am a feminist (even as the activity and some of the people involved perpetuated sexist tropes common in a community dominated by white men). I had no misgivings about adopting the label of feminist; I’ve always been a kind of all-or-nothing person. And when I am something, I try to embody it. When I want something, I needed it fifteen minutes ago (sometime I’ll tell you about how I got Spock).

I’ll bet you were AWESOME at debate–how did it help you to recognize and put words to the sexism around you? Debate is an awesome activity, and I think that it’s a good idea for a lot of young women to participate in it. It’s an academic activity, so it involves a lot of research about the topic. But you can talk about whatever you want in debate, including feminism. I was reading all of these empirical examples of sexism with commentary by people smarter than me- like Toni Morrison, Judith Butler, Gloria Steinem- and they were putting terms to what I was feeling. At the same time, debate has some problems. There are quite a few more men in the activity than women. Have you ever felt like you said the same thing as a man, and it was the man that was heard? That’s how debate felt.

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Do you think that it’s important to claim the label of “feminist”? This is a tough question. In some ways I think it is important to own the label of feminist because when people deny the term, it casts a negative light on what we are, what we are trying to accomplish. Shunning the word makes it a dirty one, and that’s just not what feminism looks like today. Contemporary scholars and activists agree that feminism looks like the belief that women and men should be socially, politically, and economically equal. Nothing more or less than this- and whatever else you believe, if rooted in this basic notion, is still feminist. So part of me thinks that if you live your life toward this end, and your actions reflect that, then it’s not necessary to adopt the term. At the same time, I think the population we live in is nuanced enough to realize that language has an effect on reality, and the way we interpret the world around us is affected by the words that we use. Therefore, if we as feminists don’t own the word, what is that saying about our movement? What about it do we deny? Personally, I believe that men and women should be politically, socially, and economically treated equally- so for me I don’t want to shun any aspect of that.
You answered that so awesomely that I feel like I never have to ask anyone that question ever again and any time someone asks me—which is often, I’ll just link them to this conversation.

Can you think of a situation that really stood out as a defining moment regarding feminism in your life? Rather than one moment that kind of stood out as a feminist turning point, for me I see it as a slow accumulation of events and experiences over time. Eventually, I got to the point where I was so fed up, fed up with apologizing.

Things I’ve earnestly apologized for in my life: being taller than a guy, not having sex because I’m on my period, having an opinion that wasn’t the same as a guy, I’ve apologized for demanding to be heard when I was interrupted.

I’ve become so fucking tired of apologizing, and did the men in those situations MAKE me apologize? Of course not, but we as Midwestern women were raised to atone for the sin of being a Midwestern woman. I suspect it is similar in other parts of the country, but I can only speak the narrative I’ve known and heard in the Midwest. The prairie is beautiful, the plains are bathed in sunlight, we as Midwesterners, have a real relationship with the land–but goddamnit if I wasn’t also raised to fear my sexuality, to think that my innocence was going to be forcibly taken from me at every turn. In Kansas schools, you don’t learn what sex is, you learn not to get into cars with strangers, that men WILL try to date rape you, that you should fear your sexuality because you don’t understand it (and you don’t understand it because they didn’t tell you). And does it protect us? We all know the answer to that.

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What does Feminism look like in your practical, day-to-day life? On a daily basis, feminism looks like community to me. It looks like our Facebook group, and validation. I think we live in a culture that glorifies work and stress and busyness, so Jenny Blackburn and I exclaim loudly, to each other and everyone, that we aren’t ashamed to say we’re doing awesome. We aren’t tired! We’ve had the best day! We aren’t afraid to say we’re killing it, that we’re going to be loud and take what we want out of this life.

Feminism for me (at this point in my life) looks like not ceding my desires for the desires of others. I get to put myself first and most importantly, I don’t apologize to anyone for that. I can’t hang out with you because I’m taking up the cello? I can’t fulfill the expectation you placed on me without my consent because I’m doing a podcast with my friends? Or I just don’t want to because I’m reading a book? I’m. Not. Sorry. And I surround myself with people that appreciate that in me.

Also, reinforcement and validation– online, in real life, at work, at school, with others, with yourself, all the time. I am surrounded by the best women in the world, and I’m at spot in my life where I place high priority on cultivating those relationships. It takes active love to undo what we are taught–that women are competition, that they are dramatic, that they are catty or dumb, that they should even be labeled in those broad-strokes terms. These days, when people do linguistic violence to women, by saying they are “guy’s girls” because women are “too dramatic,” I’m willing to engage in that discourse, to try to have a more complex discussion about the insidiousness of those comments.This is a topic I could go on and on about. But kind of leads into the next question:

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This photo of Katelin was captured by Kalene (who you met in last week’s post).

If you could say one thing about feminism to a large group of people, what would you choose to say? Be kind to yourself. If you wouldn’t let a mean person talk to one of your friends that way, don’t talk to yourself that way.
As long as you aren’t harming others, do what you like without apology. Often in our Facebook group, people say “don’t take any bullshit!” And what that means to me is that I don’t have to live up to the expectations others set for me without my consent. I used to feel riddled with guilt every time I didn’t do what someone else wanted me to do. I imagine a lot of women feel this way. Now think about how often you felt guilty (is it always? Imagine how easy it is to constantly apologize in this paradigm.) Now think about if you felt guilty regarding something you had no control over- your height, your period, your obligations. Is it silly to apologize for those things? Yes. Do we all do it? Yes. Think of how much free time and energy you’ll have when you aren’t chasing the blurry and elusive expectations of others. So free yourself to live up to your own expectations. I think that might be that turning point that we discussed earlier.

Feminism is active. But it’s fulfilling and worth it and the best call to obligation I’ve ever known.

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Everyone—thank you for reading!
If you have any questions or thoughts or would like to be interviewed yourself, either include them in the comments section or email me: libby(at)xoxolib.com.

XOXO, Lib

Page 60: Intro to Feminist Fridays

This is the first in a long series of posts which will be known as Feminist Fridays. Because individuality is at the heart of feminism, I’m going to open up this space to share with different people each Friday.
To kick it off, I’ll share only the very beginning of my story about how I came to feminism and what it means to me right now. Next week I’ll share an interview with a brilliant woman and a wonderful friend of mine which will, hopefully, bring different insights.

When I was young, “Feminist” was a dirty word. In fact, more often than not that word was actually never used, “Feminazi” was the preferred term. Feminists were angry and they hated men and wanted everyone else to hate men, too, and they were going to take over and ruin everything that God held dear. And I believed it, too. In the mid-late 90’s, there was a fair amount of Rush Limbaugh in our house but it wasn’t like it was just our house. Nearly every person that I know grew up similarly.

 

This is the point in the story where I’m supposed to say, “I saw boys building stuff and playing Football and I wondered why I couldn’t do it to!” But really that’s not the case at all. I loved traditionally girly things. I loved cooking and doing my makeup and looking through catalogs with my sister and I felt bad that boys had to get stuck doing boring things that I didn’t like doing.

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I love this photo of my dad and me.

Born and raised in a pretty religious house, I went to church thrice weekly and then when I was 19, I moved to a very religious college. The main theme that I heard all along was that men were the head of the household and women were the submissive ones. Men made the rules and women followed them. Men went to work and women made the meatloaf. Men want to have sex and women are in charge of making sure that they don’t get it (until they’re married—by then the men have been subduing their natural urges long enough and as wives, we’ll never keep it from the men any longer).

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My sister and I holding our niece, Penny, only a few hours after she was born.

This may come as a complete shock to some but when I went to my religious college, I went to join the ministry program. Now, I knew that Pastoral Ministry was Man Work so I’d never attempt that. But I thought that I was possibly called by God to be a missionary or maybe a professional Sunday School teacher or something like that? In reality I couldn’t justify the price of a private, religious education unless I was receiving a degree in religious studies. And I wanted to go here. So this is why I went for my ministry degree.

My adviser’s office was in this little chapel building and at our first meeting, he came in late with a big box of donuts. He sat it down on the edge of his desk and we talked a little bit about which classes I’d need to take in the coming semester but he didn’t really seem that invested—pretty aloof. Didn’t really make me feel very welcome, even though I was a brand new, nervous student. He didn’t even offer me a doughnut. Another student walked in—the same grade as me, it was his first time meeting this adviser, too. This student was a boy, though, and my adviser lit up. He became engaged. He said “nice to meet you”, he offered him a doughnut and when the student said, “I’m sorry, I’ll come back later,” my adviser said, “Oh, naw, we’re done here!” And then he waved me off and said, “See ya later Lindsay”. I walked to the registrar’s office to change my major because I obviously didn’t belong in the ministry department. Eventually I settled on “English” and I’m glad that I did because I thrived in that department and made wonderful friends. And I think we all know that Libby’s Ministry degree would be far more useless than even Libby’s English degree. But that’s not really the point. I didn’t leave his office in a huff. I didn’t leave his office thinking that I’d been discriminated against because I was a woman. I left his office suddenly remembering that the ministry program was not a place for women and I was silly to have even considered giving it a shot. He didn’t make me feel that I was less than the men in his program; he gently reminded me that I was less than the men in his program.

And in my current seat of retrospect, that’s really fucked up.

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Feminists fall in love, too!

Growing up I never really had guy-friends at all. It wasn’t until I got to college that I had opportunities to actually meet these men that I’d heard so much about. As I got to know them, I learned something that blew my mind.

These men were just like me.

They were confused and trying to figure it all out just like I was. Some of them were really excited to jump into their role of being the “head of the household” and others were kind of stressed out about it. Still others weren’t thinking about girls or dating or marriage or sex at all. I met lots of guys who did not have sex on their immediate radar whatsoever. I didn’t know they existed but they do and they’re actually pretty prevalent. I’d been told, for so long, that men were one way and women were another and I was well into my twenties before I realized that the truth is that we’re all individuals. We all have points of interest and skills and ideas and experiences that are valid and unique to each of us as people—not as a group.

Which seems like a pretty crucial bit of information to just kind of stumble upon as an adult. Of all of the teachers, Sunday school volunteers, coaches, general adults that I encountered in my life, why was the concept of individuality never explored? My world had simply been separated into Boys and their stuff and Girls and their stuff. I knew that I was a complex and deeply rooted human but—and I say this knowing how arrogant it sounds but it’s the truth so I have to say it—I thought I was the only one. I thought I was the only complicated person who was confused sometimes and was excited by things that didn’t fit my category and thought about stuff that no one was talking about. I thought that I was the only one. And that felt lonely. I felt like everyone else had their groups to fall back on but no one would ever understand me and I was going to be alone forever. I am so grateful that eventually I learned that wasn’t true at all.

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Uniqueness, individuality, honesty, this is the base layer of feminism to me in my life. Because we are all unique—none of us is better than the other one. We are all unique. We all have skills and knowledge and experience to bring to the table and we all have equal rights.

And it sounds really simple but I’m finding that it’s not. Because while it’s pretty common for everyone to say that we all have equal rights—it’s a lot more difficult for all of us to get access to those rights.

I feel like there is so much to say on this subject so that’s why I’m going to stop right now. Because if I don’t govern myself, I’ll literally never stop. There is so much to say and so many different aspects to explore and learn about. This is why this is going to be a regular feature on this here blog. You’ll learn more about me and my journey but you’re going to learn more about other people who are all on this journey as well. People from different faiths and different genders, different experiences and different passions.

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Thanks for joining us on this adventure,
XOXO, Lib