I HAD a ‘Feminist’ Problem — Here’s How I Fixed It

This past weekend, I went to my first march — also the first political activity I have contributed to aside from voting and being a “keyboard warrior/social media activist” online.

The march here in Los Angeles was set to start at 10 AM and the Facebook post for the event informed those who were going that they should arrive around 9 AM. Naturally, I woke up at 9:23 AM.

As I scurried to fix myself up and get my son dressed, I said goodbye to my older son and boyfriend and took a very calculated drive to downtown Los Angeles. Side note: my eldest son has autism and his father and I agreed that it would be best to go without him to not have him be claustrophobic or scared. But he was there with me in spirit.

First off, public transportation was BACKED UP. I never say this but seriously, it was hella backed up.

I waited for two trains that looked like this before I realized I was probably never going to get inside.

I decided to just drive to Flower St and 8th and park by the iHop since I used to park there for my old internship. Plus, if you eat at iHop, you get a validation for the first hour so win!

Ollie and I set our sights on getting to Pershing Square and when we got there, it was nothing short of magnificent. Remember, this was my first ever march but more than that, it was my first march fighting for someone I never really had fought for before: women. But more than that, a part of me felt like I didn’t deserve to be there.

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Let me back up a second. Because those last two sentences can ruin my story if I do not have some sort of explanation.

I grew up with three brothers and was primarily raised by my father. I played and continue to play soccer. I also strive to be a sports journalist, which is still (unfortunately) overwhelmingly a male-dominated field. I have an internship where I’m the only woman. Couple that with my two sons, my nephew and my boyfriend, and you can see just how little estrogen I have surrounding the outside of my body.

I also only had the viewpoint of older, traditional Hispanic women that were the homemakers while their husbands financially provided. So, growing up, I listened to a lot of “male-centered” conversations.

I listened to aunts talk about how amazingly handsome their sons were while scolding their daughters for the clothes they were. I remember a time where my cousin had made food for her brother, had under cooked it and he replied, “I feel bad for your future husband.” When I was 12, I was taught by my father how to clean and fold clothes while my brothers were encouraged to play and get strong.

As I got older, I kept some of these traditional viewpoints in my head. I would get angry at girls who I heard had had abortions. I would call guys who had lots of girls, “studs” while girls who were boy crazy were “sluts.”

And when this wave of feminism came around, I tried to convince myself that I was not a part of it. I swore that men and women were equal if you just played the game right. I kept convincing myself that it was all baloney.

Until I got pregnant.

I wish, I so wish that it was not a personal situation that made me change my viewpoint. That it was something that happened outside of me that convinced me to change my ways. But it wasn’t. So, if you’re reading this and you are annoyed by that, I apologize. But I’m growing and getting better.

Because when I got pregnant, I expanded my mind and my attention to things I have never known before. And it hit me in waves. For the sake of not going on a tangent, let me lay out the different issues I had to face:

  1. Keeping the baby or aborting (people gave me disapproving reasons for both).
  2. Staying in school vs. Staying at home (this one was my favorite)
  3. Going to school and working while his dad watched him
  4. Cooking
  5. Not being fat after giving birth
  6. Childcare and paying for that

Then, when his father and I temporarily separated:

7. Hanging out with my baby vs. Going out with friends

8. Juggling school and a baby

9. Being depressed and juggling school and a baby

The list is longer but as these issues starting coming up in my personal life, I started paying attention to these issues on a larger scale. Now, people were talking about me AND people who had situations similar to mine. And how it affected not just me, but other women around me. And I started to understand. No longer was feminism this icky word that meant one walked around with no bra yelling “to hell with men!” (Although, if you do, I support it).

It was this basic dignity to just allow women to live their lives how they saw fit. To understand that although I kept my baby, the people and friends around me that decided to terminate their pregnancies were not damned to hell. To understand that some women are happy being housewives while others want to hold a baby in one hand a suitcase in the other. That it’s bullshit that every time I get my period, I have to go buy pads while a man can get Viagra for free. It is about understanding that and listening to people instead of deciding for them. It is about understanding that there are different kinds of women and different issues facing those kinds of women and all of those problems need to be addressed as a right to them and for them!

My oldest brother once told me that it was not enough to have physical beauty, you had to have intellectual beauty as well. I hope he knows the power he gave me in allowing me to understand that my value as a woman transcended the way I looked and focused solely on my brain.

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So, as I walked and followed these women marching holding their signs and aching to be heard, I looked back at my son who I was carrying in his backpack and realized: these are political issues because people who are not women make them political issues.

And just as there were women before me who fought and spoke and wished to be heard, it is time for more women to do that for themselves now too.

This clouded idea of feminism needs to be diminished and its negative connotation should disappear. Because there is nothing wrong with standing up for what you believe in.

And as someone who did not realize this until she was personally targeted, I ask you to just imagine. Just imagine whatever luxury that you have that is related to being a woman and imagine that being gone. Realize that every choice you have and your ability to make that choice was because of women before you fighting. Please recognize your privilege. And if sometimes you feel like the issue might be, just might be about being a woman and then you shrug it off because you think you’re overreacting, DON’T.

This new president sucks and we need to speak up about it.

Because it is an issue. And it’s time we start defending ourselves.