Posted by Nicole Goldberg
I wanted to write an article about my journey of understanding feminism and the independence of it, and while I do that, I’ll tell you about the best role model I have had in the fight for feminism.
From the time I was born, you could say I was independent. Hell, I practically tap danced from my birth mother’s womb into the arms of the woman that I call mother today. Yes, I’m adopted, but we’ll save that subject for another day. I grew up in a house with my adoptive parents and my brother and though I have always head-butted with the mother who raised me for what I felt was a lack of independence between her and my father, I have come to understand feminism much more because of her and so much more than any other person in my life.
As a small child, my mother loved to dress me in dresses. I was in acting school, I wore whatever makeup I could find and I was seen as the pretty little girl. I spent most of my time with my mother as a very small child and as I got older, I became more of my own person. I rode my bike all the time, swam, played on my trampoline and woke up in the morning to dress in whatever was closest to me. My room was a mess, my hair was never done up and I had the mannerisms of a bull in a glass castle. The word grace was far from my vocabulary. Ballet didn’t seem to tickle my fancy; hip hop did. At a younger age, I started to think I was always meant to be a boy. I always had my hair short, I always wore black and I never felt truly “girly.” I was happy this always seemed to be a struggle for my mother to understand. I often, and rather naively wondered if the solution was to change my sex. Looking back now as an adult, I was just simply a tomboy who didn’t fit the expectations my mother had for her daughter, and that’s okay.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother and would defend her until my dying day. However, she did raise me to be independent, I just didn’t interpret her idea of independence in the same way she did. I thought independence meant not having a boyfriend who was stronger than me or not having a career that was “proper for a woman”. As a young person, I thought independence meant doing for myself in every aspect of my life. Many times, I simply fell down in my attempts at independence because I would get so overwhelmed by trying to go it alone, but because of those failed attempts, I have become a much stronger person. I, as a feminist, believe solely that men and women should be treated as equals, as there are many jobs a man cannot complete without training first, the same way a woman is trained. I mean, we as women push babies out of our bodies! Men can’t say they can do that, just as maybe there is a job that is so physically demanding, a woman couldn’t physically handle it based on certain circumstances. Most women are born with less testosterone than men, but that doesn’t make them any less of a person because of that.
My mother and father married at the ripe young age of 21. Upon marrying my father after three months of dating, her life became devoted to being a good wife and eventually, an amazing mother. I say this because as a person being told my whole life that I don’t need a man to complete me, it sounded very hypocritical as a child to hear that from her based on her actions. Now, granted, my dad was 21 at the time as well, so they both really transitioned from living with their guardians to learning how to be a newlywed couple. As I have watched my parents’ relationship over the past 20 years of my life, I have seen my mother cooking and cleaning and covering boo-boos. My father pays the bills and works very hard, but there has never seemed to be much of a discussion on who would do what around the house because my mother seemed to do everything that fit into that domestic category. I always admired her for such but never understood how someone who did so much for others could be satisfied with a man who couldn’t seem to do too much for himself as far as housework. I would ask my mother why she never forced my dad to learn to cook or to clean or to do laundry and she explained that I would understand when I am older.
My personal hope is that my male counterpart will be able to fend for himself as I would do the same. I can now appreciate the independence. The one thing my parents avoided in front of me as a child was a fight. I heard the occasional argument every now and again, but my mother always seemed to get her way no matter the circumstance. I realized that, in creating a home, she created our lifestyle. She is the foundation of our way of life. Because of her womanly independence of being selfless, she has created accountability between her and my dad, and with her positive attitude, she shaped our house into a home the same way my dad has shaped our financial situation into that of a luxurious lifestyle. My mother has taught me that no matter whether a man thinks of me, my happiness does not depend on his approval, only of what I think of myself. It does not make me selfish, it simply makes me my own person.