Thursday, March 07, 2002

Right On, Sisters!

This is Women’s History Month. Of course, you all know that. Womens e-news is running a special series of essays by five women whose ideas and activism three decades ago were cornerstones of a widespread national movement for women's rights. These women are pretty much my contemporaries, and they put me to shame with their meaningful accomplishments.

The current essay, Why the King Made Me a Feminist caught my eyes. In it
Carol Tracy, executive director of the Women's Law Project in Philadelphia, reflects on how her first jobs as a secretary informed her work later on as an attorney advocating on behalf of women.

What actually caught me eye was Tracy’s opening line:
My activist life probably began in sixth grade, when I was thrown out of my Roman Catholic school classroom because I refused to accept Sister Marie's criticism of Elvis.

She goes on to say:
Elvis was sexy and broke the rules--a white man singing the music created by blacks and swiveling his hips suggestively to teen-age girls while he did it. I loved him and the spirit he embodied and that got me into trouble at school and fired from secretarial jobs--experiences that got me into my life's work…..

Carol Tracy became a feminist because she was motivated by a deep commitment to equal opportunity for women in the workplace, even though Elvis might have been her original inspiration.

I became a feminist because I really was motivated by Elvis and his ilk. I was motivated by wanting to have the social freedom that men have. I wanted to be sexy AND not have that interpreted as an invitation to be “hit on.” I wanted to be an equal participant in the male-dominated intellectual conversations that went on far into the night. I wanted to be one of the guys, except when I wanted to “enjoy being a girl.” I wanted the choices that men are allowed to have. And I did not want to be told what was proper for a girl to do and what was not proper. I wanted to be dealt with as a strong individual who had the intelligence and self-awareness to make conscious, self-respectful choices. I wanted the right to be equal to, but different from, men.

Did I get what I wanted? Actually, very often I did. And very often there were consequences, which I saw coming and knew that I had to be prepared to take.

And I also was extremely lucky enough to find jobs that let me be who I was as an individual while I applied my abilities as a professional in the field of education. I found that it also helped to present myself as an “artist,” a writer, a poet. People tend to give much more latitude in terms of accepted behavior to those who -- they believe -- are artistic and creative, just oddball enough to be interesting but not irresponsible.

But that was then. This is now, and from what I see around me, intelligent, creative, responsible -- and even oddball -- women abound and seem to have much less trouble than the women of my generation had in asserting who they are.

This is Women’s History Month. What I read on womenblogs are the amazingly intelligent and often very clever assertions of young women who are making today’s web history, pioneers who are pushing the boundaries of another frontier that must demand an equal place for women who continue to insist on being equal to but different from men.

Right on, sisters.
This Is My Quest...
As Blogsisters searches for more female bloggers to bring into the fold, I'm on a different blogquest. I'm looking for bloggers over 60 years old, and so far I haven't found many.

As one gets older, one often feels isolated; time seems to pick up its pace while we slow down. We are sandwiched between generations who need us for all kinds of things. The internet offers connection, and blogging offers meaningful connections selected from a world-wide pool of like-minds.

The problem, of course, is that many over-60 individuals never really got into technology. Just about all of the thoughtful bloggers I've encountered are of the age at which they could be my offspring. I thoroughly enjoy interacting with them, and I love the idea of playing "cybermom." But it would be enjoyable, as well, to blogverse with people who are sitting where I am now. So, if anyone reading this knows of any, please send them my way.

Related to this is the suggestion on kuro5hin's site that politicians should have weblogs, and b!X's addition of artists and astronauts to the list. already has teachers and students blogging very creatively. Any more suggestions?