Oh to be back in college again! I am taking this moment to admit that I am a nerd and if I could be on college campus the rest of my life that is where I would be happiest.
Earlier this week I spent a day back at college and was loving every moment of it! Even trekking across campus in the bitter winds of winter didn't matter to me. It felt nice to be back in an environment that I have such an affinity for. I went back to Oakland to be a guest speaker at the request of my dear friend who is the director of the Women and Gender Studies department. She put together a small panel of former students who have graduated with degrees in WS to talk about what they are doing in life and how having a degree in this field has shaped their lives.
As I was driving there I was thinking about what I was going to say. I was the unemployed feminist who was going to be talking about how I have used my passion for women's issues and feminism to shape my experiences with volunteer work and my experience as a stay-home mother of two. I have to admit I was nervous because I anticipated the questions and the looks I would receive when I said that I am not only a mother of two, but a mother who chose to stay home.
When most people (including feminists) think of someone being a feminist they have a very clear image in there head of what that person looks like, what their politics are and what "choices" they have made with their lives. Feminists might be the hardest critics of each other when it comes to fitting the criteria or making the "check-list" . One is a feminist if....
So I went, I met some new, wonderful people and I spoke about how my passion for women's studies has shaped my life; how it has shaped each choice that I have made in my life. Because that is what we as feminists fight for, right? Freedom, equality and yes... choice. But I am curious as to when in the movement the idea of choice began to apply just to reproductive rights, abortion and sexuality and not EVERY choice a womyn makes as she transitions through her life. And also why it is that these other choices are not discussed, practiced, or supported in this community? I am sure that some would argue with me that feminists do believe, practice and support these range of choices and yes, I am one of those feminists and I am sure there are some others out there, but we are in the minority. My experience as a mother who is part of what is now considered the third wave, has not been welcomed with overwhelming support, or even moderate support. If I were to rattle off all of the times that I have been met with opposition from my own community for the choices that I have made this email would take you a serious amount of time to read.
So yes, I did talk about what I have done since college and I guarantee that is not what any of them expected me to say; I could see it on there faces. And yes, I did get the question, the first question asked: as a feminist, how did I come to this place of motherhood and why am I staying at home? So it was at that point that I went into my rant on choice and what it should mean, and how and why I have made the choices to become a mother and stay at home. I am always amazed that as I explain my understanding of choice that many have never really viewed choice the same way. But as I started explaining myself and my belief system I could see expressions changing and it led the group into an amazing conversation about choices and the importance of applying this idea of "choice" to all areas of our lives. Numerous people were able to offer their own examples of educated choices they have made in their lives and the difficulty or ease that accompanies these choices. It was at that moment I felt proud to be a part of that community and hopeful that the more we talk about issues such as "choice" that we will redefine their meanings and finally loose the check-list!