Women Writing Well

 

 

Today’s post is my first vlog attempt. Please be kind!

I mentioned several books that you may want to add to your collection. So, here are the necessary links to Amazon so you can purchase copies for yourself.

Sandra Bost’s book Massanutten Mansion

Rachel Held Evans’s book Evolving in Monkeytown

Anne Jackson’s book Permission to Speak Freely

Hello, I’m Feminist Parent


Early in my graduate school career, I read Elizabeth Flynn’s piece “Composing as a Woman.” This one piece of writing sparked a whole new fervor for feminism. Not the outspoken feminism of the 1960’s, but a more intellectual, refined push toward celebrating gender differences rather than creating a unisex society. I will admit that I still adore this piece of feminist composition theory(I will also admit that I adore reading various theoretical viewpoints about composition, rhetoric, etc. I’m geek. No denying that one.). Elizabeth Flynn focuses not on achieving gender equality in the composition classroom, but giving voice to those on the margins, seeking and celebrating differences, understanding not everyone communicates in the same manner.

But this is supposed to be a post on feminist parenting not rehashing old graduate seminar papers. For me, parenting is similar to the composition classroom or a piece of writing. As a former composition teacher, I had to learn how to celebrate difference. I guided my students to find their writing style, not to simply copy my writing style. But at the same time, I gently encouraged these students to hone their writing skills, to use correct mechanics, to revise their writing. A good composition teacher always points her students in the direction of their unique voice, a refined voice.

 

Feminist parenting is much the same way. My two children(stepchildren but I’m the one raising them) have unique viewpoints, talents, interests. Each one has a unique story, a story intricately bound up in differences. My son firmly believes he wants to design LEGOS. My daughter wants to bake cupcakes with ice cream frosting. By no means are these two life stories the same. Frankly, I’m happy that they don’t want the same things, the same life goals. There is something truly beautiful about seeing their unique life stories blossom. More than anything, I want them to choose the narrative arcs of their stories. Now, I know their stories will be far from perfect, full of mistakes in syntax and form. But they will be living their own stories, not my story forced fed into them.

With the caveat, I do not take an entirely hands off stance when it comes to their life story writing. A feminist parent encourages differences in stories but always gently revises. Revision of ill-tempered traits, poor habits is not conformity. Simply put, it allows my children to see their stories more clearly. Through gentle guidance, I point out their strengths, listen to their whims, and engage in their unique interests. Feminist parenting, for me, comes down to one sole statement:

 

Together, we craft and revise life stories.

Through the beauty of difference, I choose to parent as a feminist. Giving my children a discursive space to grow and mature, to write beautiful life stories.

 

Question: How do you help your children find their unique life story?




 

 

Feminism: Through My Life

What does feminism mean to you?photo © 2006 Quinn Dombrowski | more info (via: Wylio)

 

 

No one definition embraces its full scope. No one woman embodies its full vision. No set of words capture it—no matter how raw, graceful, or elegant. It does not exist in unified form; yet, it serves to unify the silenced, the abused, the First World, the Third World, the lesbian, the housewife, the academic, the high school drop out, the faith-filled, the agnostic. Underneath its wings, women grow stronger, more self-aware. They find voices to speak back to power and hegemonic authority. They find the strength to push against the wall of patriarchy and its abuses. Couched in all of its ideological weight rests Feminism. Loved and shunned. Embraced and rejected—Feminism.

 

Refusing to be hemmed into a succinct definition, feminism’s history is a piece quilt of the women who embrace it and who shun it. We feminists revel in the glory of suffrage. Our fledging step onto the stage of the public sphere. We take pride in those women who broke through the gender role barrier during the 1960’s. Those women who sought for gender equality give us hope. We celebrate the women who forced academia to consider gender differences in learning, to rewrite the literary canon so women writers could take a seat, to allow more women to showcase their intellectual triumphs. Yes, all of these are wonderful depictions of feminism, but they don’t fully show feminism’s deep influence upon me.

 

My definition of feminism cannot be grounded solely in academic language or rallying cries for women’s rights. How can I ever define a movement that embraces women and repulses women at the same time? How do I begin to write about my innermost womanhood that is so intertwined with feminism, but has not completely manifested itself even to me? My lived definition comes from my culled knowledge of feminist theory, rhetoric, and daily choices. The beauty of feminism is the beauty of mutual contradictions. Your definition may contradict mine, but we can embrace our common ground underneath this shared banner of feminism.

 

I choose to define my feminism is this manifesto:

 

My feminism embraces the whole experience of being a woman. Not limited to gender roles, but neither excluding those women who choose to stay within society’s prescribed mandates. A woman has the right to choose her path without fear of scorn for her choice.

 

My feminism embraces the grand meta-narrative of humanity. Both female and male voices speaking together without clamoring over one another. A beautiful dialogue of harmony, peace, and love.

 

My feminism embraces the mystery of faith. A faith grounded in love. A faith rooted in the ideology that we speak up for the poor, the widow, the orphan.

 

My feminism embraces ethical living. My lifestyle should never inflict suffering on others within my immediate community, my home nation, or the world.

 

Question: What would be on your feminist manifesto? If you disagree with feminism, what reasons do you have?

 

Life is the Miracle

 

We celebrate the miracle of birth, but the real miracle of life takes years to develop, deepen in its beauty. I think we fail to see life’s strung together moments, mishaps, and adventures as miraculous . But they are. Our birth punctuates the cosmos with our presence—screaming and resisting our release from our comfortable pre-life state. Somehow, we focus on birth as miraculous which causes us to associate all miracles as disruptions of the mundane, a blurring of the divine and human realms, mixing of the cosmic order of things. Not all miracles happen this way. Too often, we sit and wait for our miracles to be these dramatic parting of the seas episodes in life. Life blurs by us, and we miss the real miracle—the miracle of our lives developing, our true selves becoming clearer to us, our strength gained. For me, the slow path, the hard work of life that allows me to be comfortable in this shell of skin I wear—this is my miracle.

 

My miracle story is interwoven in the vast fabric of the church.

All of my life, the church and its doctrines reached into the farthest corners of my psyche and molded, shaped it. The church has been a source of life and death, love and hate. I struggle to reconcile with the church, but I can’t fully explain my narrative without including the influence of the church.

 

For years, I wished that the cosmos had placed me anywhere else as someone else.

I remember vividly wishing I were a boy(yes, I am fully aware of the field day Freud would have with that desire). Growing up in the conservative evangelical movement, I learned quickly that boys had fewer rules. We girls were constantly fussing over skirt length, proper methods of sitting so our plain underwear wouldn’t be exposed, incubating a quiet and submissive deadness while we waited for husband to come along and choose us. Yes, being a boy within the church would have been much easier in my girlish mind.

 

As I grew up, I questioned this gender hierarchy.

Questioning led to doubts about every belief that I ever claimed as mine. For me, these questions gently pushed me toward being a stronger woman. I didn’t know it at the time. For years, I wanted so desperately to reconcile the God I served who loved women, elevated the status of women with the misogyny of the modern church. No doctrinal statement, dogma could ever join the two. I gave up on God, the church, all of it. I left. I broke off the relationship and thinking I would never return. I ripped myself from the fabric of the church, leaving a tangled mess of threads, a gaping hole in both my life and the church.

 

But then I found the tenets of feminism, and in its soothing embrace, I found my way back to God.

More importantly, I found a stronger woman inside me, myself empowered through a belief system that celebrated my womanhood. Who knew I could find God and my stronger self through a feminist rhetoric class? But I did. Through uniqueness of each woman writer, theorist, her story echoed in my heart the need to pursue the source of my strength. In those moments, I grew stronger, more alive in my womanhood. Who knew I could see God in the lives of strong women, self-secured women, all women who pointed me toward the path of self-actualization? Perhaps, my wanderings away from the church allowed me to see more fully who I am, to think critically about the accepted dogma, to be at peace with who I am.

 

Here, I am a strong woman. 

Yes, the journey is painful. The peeling away of unnecessary masks,

defenses until at last I emerge more alive and aware of my strength, myself, the real me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Celebration of the Fairer Sex

We know February is Black History month, and we may be aware there is a Hispanic history month.

But how many of you know whose history month comes in March???
Writing!photo © 2009 Markus | more info (via: Wylio)

That’s what I thought. Eclipsed by other celebrations of people groups excluded from the traditional historical narrative, Women’s History Month does not receive as much attention as it should. And as a feminist, I’m not cool with Women’s History month getting slighted.

This Women’s History month, I will collaborating with my friend Veronica and bloggy friend Alise in a joined effort to celebrate the unheard, under-appreciated voices of women. For five weeks, we will be exploring our women have shaped our views about ourselves, women’s rights, parenting and relationships with others, our writing style, even ways we can improve women’s rights.

For this to be a true celebration of women, we need your voice added to ours. We want to learn about how women inspired, influenced you. We invite both men and women to join our voices and celebrate the women who made us who we are. You can participate every week or pick and choose. Here is our tentative schedule for posting:

March 2: Share your personal narrative about how you became the woman you are today or how women influenced how you became the man you are today.

March 9: Our blog posts will focus on strong women/feminism. How you see each one playing out in your life, views, thoughts? Feel free to disagree, but always in kindness.

March 16: We will be sharing how feminism or being a strong woman affects our parenting style for both our daughters and sons.

March 23: We will focus our thoughts on a woman writer who has influenced our writing style or whose writing we adore.

March 30: Our final posts will look toward what still needs to be done to raise awareness about women’s rights either locally or globally. What women’s causes really need to be addressed and how would you address these issues?

Each Wednesday, we will post a linky to so we can join together our posts celebrating women. Also, if you follow us on Twitter, you can use the hashtag #CelebrateWomen to find other Women’s History month posts. We will also be passing along your posts as we read them as well.

Please consider joining our voices as we celebrate women during the month of March.