My ‘Radical’ Feminist Mom

[this was inspired by “DEAR IJEAWELE, OR A FEMINIST MANIFESTO IN FIFTEEN SUGGESTIONS” By Chimamanda Adichie — read it!]

Content warning; sincerity, self-indulgence, feminism

my mom raised me a feminist. she gave me her last name ‘bc that’s fair.’ when i was a toddler she let me wear ‘girls’ clothes’ when I felt like it or ‘boys’ clothes’ when I felt like it. she let me have ‘boys toys’ or ‘girls’ toys.’ it didn’t matter, as long as they were on sale. when i was 2 i had a bowl cut and strangers would say ‘he’s so cute!’ and my mom would just say ‘thanks!’

she ingrained in me that girls are equal to boys. she taught me to fight for this. to raise my hand in class and say ‘he OR she!’ to request photos of female athletes on the wall in the gym alongside the photos of male athletes (i did and they rectified it). she taught me to speak up for myself. and to keep doing that even when ppl made fun of me.

it was also the things she didn’t say. she has never once spoken to me of marriage as an achievement or a goal. when i was a teenager and i brought bf’s home, my mom only asked ‘are you happy?’ when i was in college and i brought gf’s home, my mom only asked ‘are you happy?’ she has never once asked me if i plan to get married or have kids.

she never commented on my looks or how i dressed or what i ate, unless it contained Splenda (‘bad’). not when i gained weight. not when i lost it. sometimes i’d get mad. ‘mom, you never tell me i’m pretty.’ she’d say ‘you always look great.’ (i didn’t and don’t always but that’s ok)

a radical feminist and her radical feminist mom, 1990

she taught me to be mad about sexism and not to tolerate it. i was fucking pissed off about it from as young as 10. in middle school some kids at school called me a lesbian bc i had a lot of opinions and dressed ‘weird’ (they weren’t wrong). i said ‘thanks!’

this is the only kind of mothering i’ve known. it wasn’t until a few years ago that i realized how ‘radical’ this was. it shouldn’t be radical to raise little girls to demand to be treated as human beings and to teach them it’s ok to be angry and to remind them constantly that whatever they look like or who they date or if they marry or have kids or if they are fat or skinny or loud or quiet or dress weird, they are enough.

anyway, here i am at 8 looking ‘great’ in an outfit i picked out myself from my dad’s closet. thanks mom.

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