It was a typical Thursday in my world. I didn’t have any classes and decided to skip the morning shower. After I returned home from bringing my grandmother to the grocery store and pharmacy, I spent the rest of the morning cleaning house and walking the dogs. In the afternoon I began to feel a bit tired so I decided to relax with a book. I began to read the document “A Day without Feminism” as I was told to do so for Friday’s class. I knew that this would be a good book to grab because not only was it an easy read, but also interesting, and informative, as most of the material is for Women’s Studies.
I grabbed my laptop in case I got ambitious to write and headed for my bed. Things were great because my puppy decided to take a nap at the foot of the bed which made the house quiet so that I could concentrate. I began reading. I hadn’t gotten very far, actually only three paragraphs into it when BAM! I became freaked out when I read the following quote on page 170.
“With the dawn of not just a new century but a millennium, people are looking back and taking stock of feminism. Do we need new strategies? Is feminism dead? Has society changed so much that the idea of a feminist movement is obsolete? For us, the only way to answer these questions is to imagine what our lives would have been if the women’s movement had never happened and the conditions for women had remained as they were in the year of our births?”
(Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, “A Day without Feminism, 2000.”)
I read this quote over and over again. The part that really struck me was “.imagine what our lives would have been if the women’s movement had never happened.” WOW! I began to think. This is the year 2009 and I am 21 years old. I am going to be getting a B.A. in a month from a co-ed Liberal Arts College.
I am free. I can vote. I can wear whatever I want to whether it be short skirts, long dresses, jeans, shorts, flip flops, tank tops, sweatshirts, or even male clothes. I went to the grocery store and pharmacy this morning in my pajamas without having had a shower or my hair done. I don’t have to do all of the domestic chores, but I can if I choose to. I can run for local, state, or government office. I can come and go when and if I please. I can rent a car. I can work. I can take birth control.
I can, I can, I can. The list goes on and on.
If I was 21 before 1920, I would not have been allowed to vote. I would have had to follow the laws under a system of men in which I had no say. If it were the 1930s, around the time of the Great Depression, I would be discouraged from being in the workforce. Society would view me as taking jobs away from men. If I was alive in the 1950s and I was married, I would have to look beautiful all the time.
I would have to make sure that I looked beautiful before my husband went to work because the last thought of me in his head needed to be a good one. If it wasn’t, and he pursued another beautiful woman, it would be my fault. I would not have been able to go to the grocery store in the manner that I did this morning.
While there is so much that I am able to do, conquer, and accomplish, there are also some things that I can’t do. I can’t travel alone to certain areas and feel completely safe. I can’t rest assured that everyone will be treated equal based on their sex, race, class, or gender, even though there are anti-discrimination laws. Humans are so prejudice and postjudice that I am not sure this will ever happen, but it would be nice.
That is why I believe that it is very important to act upon our fears and worries and hopes with the intention that future will change. I would like to say that I had a beneficial impact on future generations, just as activists in the feminist movement have had a positive impact on my life.
EVERYONE is affected by the feminist movement in some way whether it is direct or indirect. Males, females, minorities, majorities, students, teachers, factory workers, executives. we are all a product of this movement. The thought of where I would be without the feminist movement and the courageous activists within it scares me.
I live in a world where I have freedom. I have choice. I have value outside of the home. I don’t have to take a shower if I don’t want to. If I have children, I can take them to daycare and the brunt of the child raising will not be completely my responsibility. I am allowed to attend college, and not support my husband while he gets an education. It is too easy to forget the people in the past that fought for our rights.
We need to remember them as individuals, institutions, and society as a whole. Only then will we realize what a big deal it is and hopefully create a more equal and inclusive world.
– Sierra Waite