As a child of the eighties (okay, the seventies and the eighties,) I never gave much thought to women’s lib even though I heard the term bandied about a lot on television. I suppose it just never occurred to me that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. And what I wanted to do was wear acid washed jeans, perm my hair unto an inch of its life and go to prom. Seriously though, my mom worked, most moms I knew worked and feminist issues just weren’t discussed beyond equal pay for equal work.
As a young mother, my husband and I decided that I would stay home with our children. Day care was prohibitively expensive and I’d just started going to a church where such decisions were not only approved of, but preferred, though at that time I was still under the illusion that the church supported all women equally.
It wasn’t until my children were in fourth and fifth grade did I start to question my choices. Even though I was homeschooling my children, (for educational purposes not religious reasons and wow, what a difference that made!), I began writing almost full time with an eye on publication. I wrote both fiction and nonfiction and between that and the Internet, my world grew and grew. I became aware, uncomfortably aware, that many women around the world didn’t enjoy the rights I had taken for granted or simply let slip away.
For suddenly, things were changing on my home front. As I grew and my writing became more successful, I could no longer be at the beck and call of my family. While my kids quickly adapted, my marriage went through some growing pains and for the first time feminism became very, very personal.
Well, we survived, and both my husband I grew from the experience, though we did end up breaking with the church we’d been attending. But that was the moment when feminism reached up and slapped me in the face. I began reading on the topic, both fiction (Marilyn French!!!) and nonfiction and journaling about women’s issues, though it has rarely come to the forefront in my writing. (Except for Bloom in Winter, where one of my heroines is a suffragette) However, it has become very important to me that my characters grow as both women and human beings.
Writing expanded my world. As my own world expanded, I became more conscious of the issues women here and around the world face, issues such as economic empowerment, education, maternal mortality, sex trafficking, rape culture and gender based violence. I feel rather foolish now to realize how oblivious I was. But out of the many gifts writing has given me, that is one of the most precious.
For more information on international feminist issues check out Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Life changing stuff.
*Image courtesy of Marcus / FreeDigitalPhotos.net