On International Women’s Day I found myself in a funny predicament. I spent the day with my Twinergy at a food show (he’s a chef) and two of his co-workers/friends. One of men was a tad of of an ass, calling his wife every few hours to spin some story about how they were busy they were and how long the food show was taking to get through when in fact the whole of the show took only a few hours at most. The other fellow has notoriously been an ass about his wife in the kitchens where they all work, talking trash about her and maligning her reputation amongst ‘the boys.’  The day wore on with their dynamic unchanged by my presence except for the occasional jibes and admonishments that they had gone too far with me against their wives.  And then we came to happy hour at my favorite brewery.  While there we sat at the curved bar carrying on and chatting about their work and lives.  Then the topic turned to me, to my life and my opinions.  My brother and his friends work for the state university that bestowed my undergrad/graduate degrees to me.  Through their work, they have a lot interaction with the various departments and academic programs around the university and furthermore, with the personnel at the school.  They have had some experience and dealings with the very program where I studied for my master’s degree.  Excluding my Twinergy, each of the men in our party that day have children and take their responsibilities as ‘family man’ with distinctly different priorities.  The man who lied to his wife all day about our schedule and whereabouts maintained that women like me… (“feminist,” I presume was the slur he intended) were foolish because men and women are inherently different.  I agreed with his assessment that men and women are different, but begged to differ with him regarding the foolishness of feminists in striving for equality.  And then the conversation got really interesting.

The “lying man,” just as quickly became bored with the topic of feminism and women’s equality.  However, our other companion, the “trashtalkin’ hubby,” was very engaged in the subject matter and asked me a lot of questions regarding my philosophy of feminism and parenting since he knew that I mastered in Women’s Studies at school.  He said that he was intrigued because I agreed with the prevailing opinion at the bar about difference.  He is a smart fellow and not nearly so narrow-minded as I had been led to believe.   He asked me extremely respectful and insightful questions about my feminism, and remarked that I have a different feminist philosophy than those espoused by my former colleagues.  Prior to becoming married and a parent to a young daughter, the trashtalkin’ hubby had been skeptical of feminism, but in his present state of familia, he had come to reconsider the power of women in the world and he was frustrated.  Additionally, the trashtalkin’ hubby manages a lot of diverse students and staff in his position.

He has come to see that women do endure a level of inequality in the world (thank goodness I didn’t have to explain that much to him!), and that he was often confused by the lack of negotiation young women he worked with utilized when compared to men.  He was deeply concerned for his wife and daughter in relation to this question.  I touched on the matter as it related to social failures at nurturing women as leaders.  Then he wondered if I hoped for a future where Women’s Studies would be obsolete.Where women and men held equivalent status in society.  Of course, I said that would be a wonderful utopian idea, but I feared that such a  lofty goal was a long ways off into the future.  And then he wondered at my stay-at-home-mommy-status and how that meshed with my experience in pursuing a Women’s Studies degree as I had.  While I am still satisfied with my own scholarship, I know that my department was less than enthusiastic about my work there.  I stand behind my work and believe that I learned a lot about the overarching philosophy of the academic field and in fact, I continue to respect my colleagues within the program.  I did acknowledge that my work and philosophy was uncomfortable within the program.  My perspective based in feminist mothering of two boys and in working at a successful marriage to a man certainly placed me in difference to some of my colleagues and that perspective coupled with a lot of feminist activism strained my place within the program to such a degree that I continue to feel unwelcomed there.

Despite all this, I continued to rally for the program and its philosophy of feminism within Women’s Studies scholarship.  I believe in the work I did because it afforded me the tools I continue to use in my parentage of my boys and the mentoring I do with their friends and in our community.  Though I am limited in my scope of influence, and had taken up the study of feminist philosophy with the hope that I might impact a lager sphere, I am privileged to share what I know in my community.  I defended my lot as a feminist housewife in clarifying the importance of women like me in the trenches of family life training young boys to respect the differences and honor the humanity of women.  While this position is ill-respected in scholarship, the position of women like me, working everyday to manage the dailiness — the praxis of feminism, is remarkably important work.  Young boys are seeing less advantages everyday – graduating from university at lower rates and experiencing first-hand the pains of this economic crisis.  Rather than rally hatred and scapegoating at women, it is crucial – right now – to educate young men about equality.  Despite my ability to effect large and sweeping change, I travail everyday to affect the small of my circle and hope to influence in a ripple-out effect.

a bitchin feminista mama at the intersection of political quagmire and real life.

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