Looking back into my early life when I was just a child, for most of my years, I lived in the presence of independent women like my mother, my grandmother and my aunty. I would hear from my father on and off in those years but never lived with him for a long period.
Frustration, irritation and surprise. I have never felt like this all at once before in my life.
It the first time I was stereotyped as a woman, not say that this never happened before, but this was the first time it hit home.
I have read many article and heard people talk about these moment in their life. However, I normally pass over pieces on this and never paid mind to them, growing up in an environment where a strong woman was the driving force. My mother was that force; my brother and sisters loved and respect her and came to her when they need help. To me, she was a pillar of strength and still is today.
That moment happened two years after I moved overseas to live with my father and stepmother. One year after moving in with them, they separated and I moved out with my father. I was in the last year of middle school, just about to start high school. My father worked and came home most days to a meal prepared by my older brother. My brother is good cook while, on the other hand, I was a horrible cook.
One day my brother was out with his friends while I stayed home with my head in a book. My father came home to find there were no meals for him. That was when the problem started. He came to me and said, "Why is there no food prepared?" then I replied to him that my brother was out. He turned around looked me in the eye said, "Why didn't you cook?" Back then, I would refuse to admit I was a bad cook, so I answered with,"I don't how to cook."
I think you can all guest what his next response was to me that day."My father replied, 'Because you are a woman you should learn how to cook. Therefore when you get married you can cook for your husband.'"
What's the worst possible thing you can call a woman?' You are probably thing of words like slut, whore, cunt and skank. Okay now, what are the worst things you can call a guy? Fag, girl, bitch, pussy.
Notice anything? The worst thing you can call a girl is a girl. The worst thing you can call a guy is a girl. Being a woman is the ultimate insult. This time it felt like an insult to me.
I would love to cook for my husband, but at that moment three emotions were welling up inside me. Frustration, irritation and surprise at my father spoken to me that day. I myself was hoping the first words out his mouth would have being that I should learn how to cook for myself. It was not the words I was hoping for from a man who supposedly to be my father.
Since that day every time someone would use the words "because you are a woman" this three emotion to flare up inside. Even when I hear or read about woman, feminism and women's rights it take me back to this day. To the first day, I realize that the words "because you are a woman" can hurt me. This was not the only thing realize I had that day; the second one was that my mother strength was much stronger than I thought. It made me proud to call myself her daughter.
What feminism means to me
Ever since that day, thoughts and questions with so many answers I never had came to mind. Even questions that was ask about in my classes like who am I? Moreover, back then I just answer with my name and a description of my face and things I liked and hated. Nevertheless, I am woman, girl, lady and person; there a time when people use that to brand like a slave, to limit me to one category or genre and say that "because I am a woman" things are so.
Before this moment, when people asked me what does feminism mean, I would answer using the dictionary meaning that would be that feminism is the advocacy of equality of the sexes, through the establishment of the political, social, and economic rights of women. Other times I would use the 'world book' meaning, which is that feminism is the belief that women should have economic, political, and social equality.
After a while, I am beginning to see the different in the two definitions; one started with the word "advocacy" while the other one started with the word "belief"- one is the support of the public and the other is a firm acceptance. One can help change the law whereas can the other one can try to change the people. At one point in time people believed, a women's proper place was in the home as such the law reflected this opinion. Because of advocacy that was changed. People sometime just lend their support, not their belief. That why trying to change a person belief can be hard.
Brigham Young said, "You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman you educate a generation." These spoke to me, that you raise a woman to believe in equality between the sexes we can pass this belief to the next generation.
Which of the two definitions would you use to define Feminism? This was the question I asked myself when I answered the question of what does feminism mean to me. My answer was combination of both. To me, feminism is the advocacy and belief of equality or rights of the sexes, not just law wise but as person. Rights and belief not only for myself, but also for what I want to pass onto the next generations.
"I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from other." -Rebecca West.
This answer is just my definition of feminism. I still have a long way to go to find out what real feminism mean to me.
Author: Camilla Theopile
"I was born and raised on a small island in the Caribbean. I lived with my mother for most of my life until I moved oversea to live with my father. When I lived with my mother I was surrounded by women who independant and hard working. I have a large family with many siblings."