I’m a feminist, I said to Steve.
He quickly pulled back the shower curtain (we do a lot of our talking while he’s in the shower). No you’re not he said scathingly.
It’s comes from this image, you see, of man-haters. Has people’s fear of feminism encouraged this interpretation of a feminist to be a man-hater, masculine, probably a lesbian, hairy, angry? Or have a couple of angry, hairy lesbians over the years ruined it for the rest of us?
Feminism shouldn’t be a statement. It shouldn’t be a heavy enough of a word to silence a room. But it is. Here’s the deal: I respect men. And honestly? I don’t think they get enough credit for what they do (I’ve said that before). They are not inherently stupid or insensitive or inherently make bad fashion choices – they are merely socialized as male. And women are not inherently nurturing and kind and sweet and soft but socialized as female. Don’t you see? We do this to ourselves.
And I like Chris Rock stand-up and yes, I rock out to hip-hop sometimes in my car, let my kids watch Princess movies and enjoy a good chit-flick. I have a sense of humour and can laugh at myself (and others). But I still consider myself a feminist. I’m not angry (or hairy for that matter), but sometimes I feel anger. I feel passion and can be outspoken.
We’re afraid of things, we’re afraid of passion and anger and anything large and loud. It’s why we follow every positive about ourselves with a negative. As a society, we’re afraid of heroes. And it’s been ever-thus, for heavens sakes, look what we did to Jesus.
My cousin and his girlfriend were asking about the running clinics I coached last summer. I mentioned that I might do another this spring and suggested they join. I’m a good coach, I’ll get you running. I promised. And every face in the room turned to me in surprise. Because I had praised myself. It doesn’t matter that what I said was exactly true: I am a great running coach and motivator, but people aren’t used to hearing high praise about someone from that person and confidence makes us uncomfortable. It’s often interpreted as arrogance, or worse, judgement on others. Which is bullshit, really.
Not that I’m unfailingly confident, as you well know. But I’m feeling really strong and healthy these past few weeks. It’s easier at some times than at others, I’m afraid, and I need to learn how to hold onto this strength that resides inside when I start to feel desperate. It takes focus and help, sometimes, and above all, belief in myself. And when this year is over, and I write my recap of 2011 and I praise myself for being strong and holding onto faith in myself, I’m going to get a second tattoo. I’m not sure what, yet, but something symbolizing balance and harmony and strength.
We’re alone in this journey, ultimately. This fall was proof of that for me. I have my children and my husband, yes. And they fill the house with noise and god, my love for them is immeasurable. But during those months when I felt like they would be better off without me and that I was useless, as a wife, especially, nothing absolutely nothing that Steve did for me or said to me (and he was especially attentive and upset that he knew I was feeling like that) made a difference.
But like I said, now is not the difficult time. Not is when I enjoy the (figurative) sun-shine. I enjoy my strong running and my classes and my children and my husband. Right now is the rain after a drought.