I wanted to kick this blog off with the basics.
First of all, let’s get one thing straight.
I am a feminist.
And, it is probably my favourite thing about myself.
I do not think it is radical to make that statement. I believe in equal opportunity for and equal treatment of people, regardless of their gender, race, class, religion, sexual orientation, political beliefs, ETC. ETC. ETC. I believe in intersectionality, meaning that all of these things put together in varying combinations make for dramatically individual experiences. Just because you are a woman, does not mean you know what it’s like to be a woman of colour, for instance. The point is, there are a million and one forms of oppression, and I don’t claim to understand them all. But I’m open to listening. I hope you are, too.
Something else: I believe that as a feminist, I have somewhat of a duty to educate others who want to learn more about the feel-good fight for equality. I know some feminists don’t think this is their responsibility, and that’s totally up to them. But I think the best way to spread a message is through open and respectful dialogue.
If you don’t identify as a feminist, or even if when you think of a feminist, you picture a hairy, bra-burning, screaming woman*, that’s ok. All I ask is that you take some time to listen to my perspective, and maybe, (just maybe), you might learn something.
*Side note: I am rather hairy, I avoid wearing bras when I can, though I try to keep the screaming to a minimum.
Finding my own feminism
I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where my parents empowered me. I was never made to feel that I could do anything less than my male peers. I was raised by two airline pilots, which made for a unique dynamic.
Growing up, in response to the countless teachers asking what my parents did, I always responded with, “my parents are pilots.”
Almost every time, the teacher would do a double-take. “Are you sure your mom’s not a flight attendant, sweetie?”
“No, my mom is a badass pilot, she flies f**king jet planes, I think I would know this,” is how I imagine my six-year old self responding.
I would always correct them, even if there wasn’t so much sassy swearing involved. Still, I learned gender bias pretty early on through these interactions, though I wouldn’t have known to call it that at the time.
Oh, but that was like, fifteen years ago, nobody would question your mother’s profession anymore, is what you might be thinking at this point.
To this day, people, men and women alike, go, “wow, both your parents are pilots?” Yup. “Your mom, too?” they ask, incredulously. “Yes,” I say, with a smile, before politely informing them that my mother actually flies a much bigger jet plane than my father. (Sorry Dad, I know that will hurt your airplane ego – you fly good too <3)
All of this doesn’t even compare with what my mom had to go through to get where she is now in her career. Flying has always been, and still is, a male-dominated industry. She has experienced sexual harassment from colleagues, and males (read, dicks), who have actually gotten up and left the airplane after realizing there was a woman in the cock-pit.**
My mother always downplays her experiences as part of the job. She is a strong person, with a high tolerance for bullshit. That said, she always stands her ground, and never backs down from a fight. It is this fiery spirit that was handed down to me, and led to my always challenging boys in high school when they made sexist and derogatory jokes.
“Just chill,” they would say. “It’s just a joke.” This has become my least favourite phrase on the planet, ever.
I didn’t chill, and I’m glad I didn’t. Once in university, I realized that what I was doing, the things I cared about and stood up for, had a name: feminism.
Obviously I wasn’t perfect, and I’m still far from it. I’ve done and said problematic things just like anyone else. But if there’s one thing I’m thankful for, it’s that I didn’t take advice from boys in school.
**Speaking of a gendered profession, ever wonder why it’s called a cock-pit?