Monday, March 3, 2008

Reflections on Life and Feminism

Upon reflecting about my life and considering the mistakes I’ve made along the way I could not help but wonder about other women and whether there were many out there that may have experienced the same types of things I have: whether they were able to pick themselves up or not; how they were or why they were not. The feminist movement comes to mind and I was never really able to connect the meaning of what I had learned about it with reality as I lived it. That is until now.
Remarkably, I don’t ever remember learning about the feminist movement from any woman I knew. Certain concepts were encouraged and assumed, but no one ever sat me down and discussed with me what life had been like for women throughout history and how I fit into the flow and continuity of it all. Popular TV shows alluded to feminism and my high school US History teacher may have skimmed over a couple of pages about woman’s suffrage with our class in 11th grade, but other than that it has been a learn-as-you go reality.
An occasional, “Don’t let him talk to you like that,” from a peer in high school over-hearing an argument between a boyfriend and girlfriend, or an awe-filled “she ran against a guy!” from a classmate when we did not have a girl’s indoor track team and a couple of other girls and I were forced to compete at the boy’s track meets.
Even in college there was no substantial thread of knowledge to hold onto outside of the Women’s Studies Department and I found myself floating along in a world that was racing forward around me.
For example, had I understood the importance of completing my college education as a means of increasing my odds for success in modernity as an African American women, I may have reconsidered leaving school to have my son and start a family when I did. Had I been conscious of my existence as a woman of the fourth generation in my family since slavery in America and the recent struggles for women in this country to be seen and considered as equals in society, I may have made different choices. However, qué será será! Whatever will be will be and I’m not unhappy with my life, as it has turned out thus far. I have a beautiful son whom I couldn’t be more proud of and a wonderful husband who exceeds my expectations again and again. I cannot however ignore the hard days that I have or the fact that there may be women who may have made similar choices as I but who may not have been as fortunate.
Women who may have chosen to leave school or a career to start a family but the endeavor fell through. Now they have a “baby’s daddy” and a car note they cannot pay and it seems to me that just a little more information and thoughtfulness could have helped to deter them from the path that they may have had to tread; information and guidance from their elders regarding their location in history and how to traverse the waters of life.
It could be that my experience is completely and uniquely my own, but it could also be that it is not. However, if in fact it is not and if we as a society expect to improve and to realize liberty and justice all in real time we should then make a stronger and more concerted effort to inform one another in ways that are liberating and judicial.
Useful information should not be restricted to the higher echelons of society or to the strictly religious and all women should be given the chance to succeed and prosper.
I went to the toy store with my son and brother one day and my brother said something that tickled me. As we walked past a large pastel colored box with a picture of a little girl at a miniature ironing board, happily pressing what looked to be an article of clothing he said, “They’re getting them ready early, aren’t they.”
His joking made me laugh, but upon reflection, I realized that he had tapped into a matter that should be of great concern to not only women but to society as a whole and that being the matter of how we are raising our children and to narrow it down, how we are raising our girls.
I don’t have any girls of my own, but I do have a younger sister and nieces so I’ve gotten enough of a dose of modern day college life and club-life worries, America’s Next Top Model, That’s So Raven, and Hannah Montana to wake me up to the reality of what we are teaching one another about womanhood and how to be and live as women.
And I don’t think that everything out there is negative. I’ve watched America’s Next Top Model myself and some of the things they talk about and address on the show are useful, but they rarely provide a context in which the average young women can come away from the show empowered or enlightened within the constrains of their own life circumstances which, after all, is what is most important if we as women are to discover where we must stand on the earth’s stage and play our role completely.
There are too many successful women who live by their faith to exclude God and values from popular discourse and there has to be a way to incorporate righteousness and modesty into women’s lives in ways that are inspiring and liberating. We should think more about what we are getting our girls ready for and if they’re prepared for it; should think more of what we’re getting our own selves ready for and if we are indeed prepared for it also.
There’s a passage in the Bible that says in Proverbs 7:4, “Say to wisdom, "You are my sister," and call insight your intimate friend,” and if we could teach ourselves and our sisters and our daughters and our nieces how to live with wisdom as our sister and insight as our friend there’s no doubt that we could shape a better world; no doubt that we would be equipped to make better and more informed life decisions; no doubt that we would know where we fit in history and how to live feminism to the fullest.


Women in Islam

Daughters in Islaam

The Excellence of Raising Daughters


Raising Up Queens: Loving Our Daughters Loud and Strong
by Esther Davis-Thompson

Raising a Daughter: Parents and the Awakening of a Healthy Woman
by Jeanne Elium and Don Elium

Raising Strong Daughters
by Jeanette Gadeberg

Mother-Daughter Wisdom: Understanding the Crucial Link Between Mothers, Daughters, and Health
by Christiane Md Northrup

Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing
by Christiane Md Northrup

Life Reminders

Psalm 145:8-9 The Lord is Gracious and Merciful
The Lord is Gracious and Merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and His Compassion is over all that He has made.

Matthew 11:28 Gentleness and Humility
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Surah 33:21 Beautiful Pattern of Conduct
Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern of conduct for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah.

Sahih Muslim, Book Unknown: Changing an Evil Action
“Whosoever of you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart; and that is the weakest of faith.”

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