My own journey toward feminism began at a very young age when I watched my father lay hands on my mother many times. It was at a time in Europe when husbands still had the right to beat their wives and fathers were lauded for punishing their children for any perceived infringement of the rules. In our home the punishment came in the form of physical and mental beatings.
I vividly remember coming home from school one day to my father’s silent figure greeting me in the hallway with his hand swinging out and hitting me on the side of my head. The force of the assault drove my face into the doorpost where I collapsed. For months thereafter I could feel the indentation in my skull where my forehead had met the unyielding corner of the door frame.
I watched my mother struggle to raise her children in a marriage filled with indignity and fear and it did not take long for me to understand that the only way for a woman to be free was to determine her own destiny. Hence, a feminist was born.
Upon arriving in the US in the early 1970’s I found that women of all backgrounds were fighting for equal rights and the Equal Rights Amendment was well on its way toward ratification. Of course I joined the effort and made my own contributions to the cause, especially after my daughter was born. I remember that all forms refered to any child as he and as silly as it may seem, I also remember exhausting many red pens by adding an s in front of the he to correctly refer to my child as she.
Since then we have come a long way and history shows that many changes toward equality took hold even though the ERA was narrowly defeated by the likes of Phyllis Schlafly and her Eagle Forum. The changes are manifold and show themself in many different ways, some of which are filled with humor.
Take for example the story told by Veronika Oleksyn ( Associated Press) of 15-year-old Regina Mayer who lives on her parent’s farm in Laufen Germany.
It seems that this inventive girl did not take no for an answer when her parents denied her the horse she craved to pursue her love of riding. She rebelled in her own special way by training her pet cow Luna to accept a saddle and finally also herself as rider, thus giving the word cow-girl a much improved meaning.
Bravo Regina and a toast to your parents who did not prevent you from accomplishing your goal. And many thanks to my own daughter who sent me the link to this heartwarming tale: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110405/ap_on_re_eu/eu_germany_jumping_cow
But on a more serious note, I’d like to share with you exciting information that shows feminism is alive and well among our own youth. Meet Courtney Martin, a blogger and internet entrepreneur whose website is a goldmine for people interested in the cause.
It is clear that the issues to be dealt with have expanded in number and become more complex since the women of my generation took to the streets. Now our daughters and son have to deal with problems more diverse and threatening than we had to content with at the beginning of the fight. You can find Courtney’s blog at http://www.feministing.com. It will take you to the center of issues that are percolating today.