I was raised in a household with a white, conservative male father, who conditioned me to believe that “women are far too emotional to run a country.” Men always had the upper hand because emotions made the rest of us weak.
I got pregnant and had my daughter all by the age of 20. I wanted so badly for the baby to be a girl so I could dress her up in frilly pink bows and pigtails. For a few years, I got my wish. It wasn’t until my daughter was in kindergarten that she started turning into a tomboy. Every day was a struggle to get her to brush her hair, and I had to keep buying her new pants because she’d always rip holes into the knees from crawling around in the dirt. Her favourite colour was no longer pink. She hated pink. Everything had to be green and then eventually blue.
Kindergarten was also the last time she ever wore a dress. I remember that day like it was yesterday. When I picked her up from school, she seemed really upset. I asked her what was wrong and she told me that two boys at school had lifted up her dress. An anger sparked inside of me. I couldn’t believe that, at just 5 years old, my daughter had gotten her first taste of what women go through on a daily basis. That anger lit a match and set all my anti-feminist beliefs on fire. I started to get furious. I took my rage out on anyone that had opposing views, Facebook threads, the anti-abortionists that picketed downtown got an earful from me screaming at them from my car. If I had been conditioned and able to change my beliefs, surely me yelling at everyone would help them see the light, too.
After a while, I realized I wasn’t getting anywhere. So I took my anger and started educating the face of the future: my daughter. I let her know daily how competent she is. That her emotions aren’t weaknesses. In fact they’re the exact opposite. And I tell her that she is capable of becoming whatever she damn well pleases. We keep sticking a stigma onto feminism. We’re not all male hating lesbians. If you believe that women deserve equality, then guess what? You’re a feminist too.
Written by: Kendra Piper