Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Call to Arms. A Call to Love.

I believe in the power of good women united by common goals. 
I also believe in the power of kindness and love to reach those goals. Recently, Open Thought Vortex Magazine invited me to share my thoughts on feminism during Women's Empowerment Month. I was pleased to share the following:
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Feminism gets a bad rap. The term has been twisted to convey something far different than its original definition:

1.  the theory of political, economic, & social equality of the sexes
2.  organized activity on behalf of women's rights & interests

Basic. Elegant. Yet somehow feminism has become associated with radical behavior, extremely liberal opinions, and pointing the finger of blame at men, politicians, society, etc.

I’m a 40-year-old woman from rural Utah who teaches kindergarten and writes Young Adult novels. I refuse to support action that harms, demeans, or degrades others whose sex, age, political views, or religion differ from mine. And since today’s predominant strategy for promoting women’s rights is shouting your grievances at the top of your lungs, I tend to distance myself from it. The kindergarten teacher in me can’t see the difference between that strategy and the kid who declares himself (or herself) King of the Jungle Gym and enforces his (or her) claim through a series of playground scuffles.

I’ve seen my fair share of intolerance. I live in a particularly diverse area in Northern Utah where there is often tension resulting from differing political standpoints, religious beliefs, and even warring gangs. Local Pastor Monica Hall stated, “[There is] a natural tendency to draw distinctions and define each other. Definitions such as: she is Muslim, he is black, she is Presbyterian, he is Latino, they are Mormon, etc. . . . Such definitions can draw boundaries of who WE are and who THEY are. These boundaries can be dangerous. They can be dangerous when we use the boundary of division to ignore human needs.”

That’s my main issue with feminism. When we paint ourselves as victims and everyone else as aggressors, there’s no one left to explore solutions to the common problems we face.

Actress Emma Watson had plenty to say on the subject. “If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by who we are, we can be much freer.”

In my classroom alone, I encounter bias, misconceptions, and intolerance. Kids already have a lot of baggage by the time they step into my room.  I do my best to employ a practice that reaches hearts, souls, and minds. It’s called Love. Love and Listen.

If all we do is scream about the world’s injustices, nothing will ever change. But if we take on our noble role as women who lead, nurture, teach, inspire, and uplift, we can effect change.

Author Norah Ephron summed it up beautifully. “Above all, be the heroine of your own life.”

That’s what I want. That’s MY prime goal as a feminist, to be the best me I can be and to bring as many women, girls, mothers, and sisters along with me as possible.

Author Francesca Lia Block said, “Just like any woman . . . we weave our stories out of our bodies, some of us through our children, or our art; some do it just by living. It’s all the same.”

I effect change in my classroom and in my novels, with my students, friends, and family. I stand up for what I believe and I refuse to hide who I am. I am a woman and I am powerful. And I believe in the power of love and kindness.
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Thanks for dropping by, my dears! If you'd like to read more women's empowerment, revisit The Making of a Woman or pop over to OTV Magazine and peruse the March 2017 posts. And please leave me your thoughts on womanhood and feminism in a comment below. Go forth and be awesome, my friends!

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