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The F Word: Why Feminism is so Freakin’ Fly

In Celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8th, myself & my friend and Doula Rachel Cline organized a local event here in Fernie BC called Goddess Rising: Inspiring Change. Goddess Rising was a ‘conference’ style event with empowering breakout workshops, inspiring keynote speakers, holistic pampering sessions & live music, dancing & yoga. The planning started nearly 6 months ago, and was a really amazing process that both Rachel and I are so proud of. We were feeling fairly confident about the event leading up to it and then about two weeks beforehand one of our keynote speakers and workshop facilitators had to cancel. We made every effort to replace her without success. Rachel finally resigned to running a mother daughter workshop similar to the one our contributor had planned.  I thought that was so brave of her, we had so much to take on as organizers, and I could not see how she could do it, but I know how hard this woman can work and so I knew it would be great. Little did I know that three days before the event we would come to learn that a second speaker would be unable to attend! So there we were, a few days away from March 8th, and short 40 minutes of content right smack dab in the middle of our event! At some point I decided I would write a speech! Yep, I said it…”I can do it! I’ll write something about feminism.” I’m not sure where that little piece of inspiration came from, but it showed itself and then I was committed. Ha! Little did I know “the opportune time to write a keynote presentation” while organizing an event of this magnitude would probably not present itself…not until the night before that is! So today I offer all of my Feminist Loving Inspiration. Drafted while drinking red wine until 5am the morning before Goddess Rising…Freakin.Fly

Why is it that when I say I’m a Feminist, I feel like I’ve just dropped an F-bomb?  Anyone?

I want to talk about feminism because it’s time to soften the blow. Feminism is not a dirty word! These young girls are looking at me funny. Our daughters should know about feminism. No wait…our daughters should be feminists. Wait! Even better…Our daughters ARE feminists! Seriously! They are not too young. Here I’ll show you. What’s the first song that comes to mind if I ask you to sing me a song from the playground? Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m up here singing…I’m the king of the castle and you’re the dirty rascal.  Economic status aside, why can’t the Queen be hollering from the top of the slide? She can, and she will if we stop associating Feminists with extremists. If we stop associating feminists at radicals, if we stop associating Feminists with battles!

I was researching for this talk & I went over to Urban Dictionary.Com – are ya’ll familiar with this site? It’s the dictionary of the young people…current slang. If you hear something come out of a tw’een, or teen’s mouth and don’t know what an earth they are talking about…fake like you understand and then head over to urban dictionary. The answer will be there. I‘m trying to find out what the young people think about Feminism so I type in feminist & it says:

‘Someone who believes the radical notion that women are people.’

I’m not joking! Okay so there are some young people in the room. Listen young girls, it’s time to learn about sexism.  Now I’m not trying to pick a fight with boys here okay? This is different. Sexism is when you are treated unfairly because of your gender. Because you are a boy or a girl.  The reason why Feminists are awesome is because they want women to be treated equally. Feminism is just another way of being fair. The reason we need feminism is because there was a time when there were a lot of rules, just for girls and women, that weren’t fair.

What do you think Moms & GrandMoms? Was that a decent way to explain it to our daughters? I hope so. Just to make sure…here’s an example. Let’s say your family had a really important decision to make and nobody could agree on the best decision, so you decided to have a vote. But then somebody says that you don’t get to vote because you’re a girl, you don’t count. Is that fair? No.  Or how about you have a chore to do in your home and you’re feeling good because it’s the type of chore that is extra work outside of the things you do in your home that help keep your home nice. So you are going to get paid for the extra work. But then somebody says you’ll be making less money than the job is worth, just because you’re a girl.  In 2014 that ‘less’ is about 23% less. So for the same work, your brother get’s 5 bucks and you only get 3.75. Is that fair? No.  And Yes beautiful women…those stats are current.

That’s how it was for a really long time for all the girls and women in all of Canada and other countries too. We weren’t allowed to make big decisions. The unfairness started to bother us, and many, many women began to speak up about it.  Those women and women today who believe in supporting women’s choices – we are really good at making choices- we are Feminists.

Okay, That’s it for the history of Feminism Primary Edition.

In more of my F Word research I discovered a surprising fact. I grew up learning that women in Canada got to vote in the federal election in 1921. 93 years ago.  But what I didn’t learn was that not ALL women got to vote. Actually, Asian, First Nation & Black women didn’t get to vote in a Federal Election until the end of the forties. And other laws against First Nations women weren’t changed until 1960. 1960 was finally when all women got to make big decisions!

Let me bring it back to the foundation of my message today. The essence of this presentation… Feminism is so Freakin’ FLY!

You thought I was going to say something really profound!  No Seriously. Why can’t Feminism be awesome? What happened along the way, that we became embarrassed about our history, separated from the righteous women who burned bras! Feminism is about Freedom, and freedom means choice! And having choices is awesome! And by the way…according to Wikipedia the women’s liberation movement of the late sixties and seventies didn’t actually ever burn bras in protest! Who knew? Just another media twist that made a good headline.

The IWD 2014 theme is Inspiring Change.  I was up late last night securing our next speaker, my mentor and friend Gloria Lemay and I told her the theme, because I thought it would help her create content for her talk. I say Inspiring Change and she says oooooooo (negative tone).

I’m thinking what’s wrong with Inspiring Change? She gave me some really good advice.  Change is hard. Change means somethings wrong. Change means I think y’all aren’t doing things the way I think you should. Now I’m thinking Dang! She’s right. So I want you to know that I’m not up here preaching at you, or asking you to “be inspired to change” I’m up here in gratitude for you being here at all.  Gloria asked me what was the purpose of the event, and without hesitation I answered Multi-Generational Sisterhood. So thank you…that is what I see before me.  If you don’t consider yourself a feminist – I still love you.  If you are a bra burning, radical feminist – I love you too. I love all women and their infinite potential, and to me that is the essence of being a feminist. ‘She’ is so Freakin’ FLY

And now I’m going to talk about MOTHERS. You didn’t think I would talk about the F word without including Mothers did you?

Those radical picket line bra burning, extreme feminists brought liberation, and opportunity, and more…work.  And if that’s what you want…I’m right beside you.  But…somewhere along the way, a way got lost.  I named my daughter after my dear aunt Carol. 12 years younger than my father, a self confessed oops baby and lover of horses. I lived with her when I went to OttawaU. What a blessing to be so subtly mothered, and to hear stories of my grandmother…long after my Dad had left home. The height of the Women’s Liberation movement and my grandma said.  “Why would you want to go to work now? Now that housework is so much easier! Dishwasher, laundry machine, toaster oven, Tupperware and blenders! It makes no sense!”  We would laugh at her “olden ways” but now…I can relate.

Motherhood is powerful! I stand before you today and ask you to stand in that power. Now, or when it is your time. I hear so many women who seem to encounter motherhood as if it were some insignificant stage. Some not quite noteworthy period between a paycheque and Unemployment Income. “I’m JUST on maternity leave. I’m JUST a stay at home mom.” It deeply saddens me.  There is an old-school pin on the notice board at the Fernie Women’s resource centre that says: “EVERY MOTHER IS A WORKING MOTHER”  I couldn’t say it better myself.

We’re talking about the future of humanity. Women giving life to the next generation, raising them up, balancing careers, breastfeeding, playdates, date nights, PAC meetings, coffee chats, husbands, boyfriends, partners, wives, the paper monster & the laundry zombies, field trips and swim lessons, final reports and promotions, yoga class & crossfit, band practice and roller derby, clinical work and ER shifts, book club and writers group, tax returns and household budgets…all in the name of what?….The F word. Ladies…we’re all that and more. Feminism is the groundwork…the solid foundation that holds us together.  The “Hey Girl!” understanding that means…I got you! No matter what!

Feminists will write you a kick ass letter of recommendation for anything you put your mind to and they don’t need a special pen to do it:  enter Ellen.

That clip is a classic example of gender stereotyping. And now…Pink & Purple Lego! O.M.G.  9 years ago when my eldest son was 2, he got right into cooking.  He used everything in his sight and pretended it was kitchenware. His 3rd birthday was approaching and his Dad and I talked about giving him a kitchen set.  Those were before the days of BPA Free, organic wooden toy kitchens nicer than my own! I’m talking we’re going to Zellers and buying the first Fisher Price tot oven we can find. Oh excuse me…? All of them are pink and purple.  ALL of them.  Yet, working in food and beverage for nearly 20 years, I never served food prepared by a female head chef.  You cook as a house wife, but you can’t run a commercial kitchen? Work that one out.

It’s doesn’t all have to be so confusing. Try not to pick fights, just stand up for what is fair! Don’t focus on little bitty people who are stuck in an urban dictionary world.  Spread as much love and support for women’s choices as you can handle.  Feminism is simple.  Freedom & Fairness. How FLY is that!?

Why do you think Feminism is FLY? Speak Your Mind in the comments below.