So, I am the eldest daughter of three girls. We are a dynamic threesome. We are educated; independent, firery, sweet, and super thoughtful. We are also big believers in girl power!! We all own power tools and do home repairs too.
Our father is a retired mechanic. I think his biggest hope for us was that he and our mother would raise us to be independent women who could take care of ourselves who would in turn meet men who would do it for us. Gosh I love my daddy.
In my “capital F” feminist days I was a bit offended when I came to this realization, but now, years later, I kinda dig it. I mean, I can and do take care of myself, but the notion of having a partner who could shoulder the burden and do a lot of stuff, is more and more appealing as I age. Ok, not just for doing stuff, but you know…<smile>.
Anyhoo, at one point I was a Feminist—capital F—and I asked dudes out, I was ready to burn my bras, Gloria Steinem was my homegirl. I raged against the patriarchy! I pushed my way into a corner office and tried to find ways to bring women with me and thank the women who mentored me.
Then I got tired, because, well, being Black and a Feminist is hard work. Don’t believe me, peep #FeminismIsForWhiteWomen on Twitter.
The movement doesn’t really have a good, solid, inclusive space for women of color and the narrative of seeking equality on multiple fronts.
So, then I just kinda lived my own brand of feminism—little f.
I do what I want, when I want and I pursue equality and justice the best ways I know how.
So what does this have to do with anything?
Well, as a 14 year old girl, Hope is boy crazy. There are hearts on notebooks. Mr. &; Mrs. So and So scrawled here and there. It’s adorbs! But, it’s usually accompanied by Hope chasing a boy to exhaustion to go steady. Love comes and goes in epic fanfare in a 7-10 days.
The thirst is real. We’ve talked about it in therapy and without breeching too much of her confidence; the need to be loved by someone other than me is really serious and specifically by a man/boy is essential.
So we’ve been working on social cues, particularly from crushes and learning to just lay low and be the pursued instead of the pursuer.
Let the crush express his interest.
Consider his true worthiness of your time.
Let the crush ask for your number.
Let the crush text you first.
Let the crush wait a bit for your response.
Don’t be so accessible.
Cultivate your sista friendships instead.
Let him ask you out.
This is the whole reason why the Holy Homeboy gave the male species all the pretty colors and stuff–think birds–peacocks, mallards, robins, cardinals…amiright? Of course I feel some kinda way that he made the girlie birds all bland and homely looking, but that’s another discussion for another day. #idigress
Now, none of this really stands in opposition of feminism for me—big or little f. But coaching Hope in this way feels like I’m taking a step back in time and teaching her those silly “rules” about dating. It feels traditional in a way that feels throwback, in a way that feels like I’m somehow cheating on my own brand of feminism.
It’s just weird that the anecdote to Hope’s social issues is to teach her a very traditional view of what courting is supposed to be like.
And yet, of course I want her to be courted. Dammit, she deserves to be courted and she should dang well be taught what it should look like so she doesn’t get shafted by some dork who isn’t worth her time and who I might have to chase away with a broom like my mom did with one of my sister’s suitors (that was EPIC!). Let’s face it, no one will be good enough and I’ll be using my $5 Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon for a fancy new broom this weekend. Oh, and let me be clear, the desire to be courted has nothing to do with the desire to be treated as an equal in a relationship.
It’s especially weird because I feel like I’ve come full circle—this is what daddy taught me, what I moved away from a bit as I explored my own world, what I’ve returned to with my sweet Elihu (he’s a serious courtier in word and deed) and now what I’m teaching Hope.
Am I still a feminist? Um, yeah, of course, I am!
More importantly, with this whole full circle thing, am I old?
What the hell????
It just feels like I’ve fallen down some weird rabbit hole in which my adult lived experience is colliding with the values I hope to instill in my daughter about her own worthiness.
They aren’t really that different. I think they are just different chapters in the same story…at least that my story and I’m sticking with it.