I Remember the Exact Moment I Became a Feminist
A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of taking the stage at yet another TEDx event at UC Berkeley. The theme of the day for TEDxBerkeley was “Rethink. Redefine. Recreate.” and it’s one I took to heart. My talk was called “Observation and Change” and it focused on something that’s become essential in my personal and professional life: observing what needs to be changed and then working to fix it. As I said in my talk, which you can view below – there are a lot of things in this world that need to be changed, and it’s absolutely overwhelming. Can you fix them all? No. But what you can do, and what you must do is take that one thing that keeps you awake at night and do something about it.
My example? Disney movies. I loved them as a child – Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty – I sat rapt before their stories. And I thought, too, innocently, that if I waited for my prince to come, he would, and that he would set my life on a happily-ever-after course. But as I got older, I observed. I observed my own family life, observed my hard-working mother’s life, and it dawned on me that marriage wasn’t the end-all be-all for a woman. My mother worked hard at her full-time job and at home taking care of her house and family, while my father simply had to work at his day job and then come home to be served by the women of the house. These observations led to a change in me. I remember the exact moment I became a feminist, and it was a moment in my mother’s kitchen where my father grumped about having to get up and get his own salt for his dinner. “Two women in this house,” he groused, “and I have to get up and get my own salt.”
Not to him, but to my mother and me. I observed that day that females are not treated equally in our world, or even in my own small one. And I decided that in whatever I did in life, it would include working to change that.
Which leads me back to Disney. The movies I worked on there were by no means perfect, but each one brought us closer and closer to the goal of a princess whose total happiness does not depend on marriage. Ariel was a headstrong, rebellious, go-getter, Belle was a smart girl who saw past Gaston’s handsome brawn, and Merida, my Merida, was content and happy with whom she was and knew she didn’t need a husband to complete her.
I observed, and as much as I could, I changed.
So can you.
So tell me, what’s that one thing that keeps you up at night? And can you remember the exact moment that you became a feminist – or a (fill in the blank)_________? I’d love to know!
Other posts you might like:
Is my son smart? Is my daughter skinny? Google Search Reveals Parents’ Gender Bias Searches
I’m a Male Feminist. No, Seriously
Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualization of Girlhood, From Birth to Teen
Staying True to Merida, Why This Fight Matters