Growing up around positive male figures, I never understood "feminism." Why are they so angry? I would think as I trotted off to seminary and school, with calls from my father to 'always do my best'. My high school teachers, largely small liberal arts college grads, would purport these foreign messages of "equality" and I would come home and question the urgency in their message, feeling none.
It wasn't until I went to college in a small American town, that I understood. First experiences with boys who stated aloud the unimportance of womens' higher education. Girls who had pre-fixed expectations of marriage and children, with no assumption to make something of their own. No further ideas. No further questions. Worried calls from roommates' parents concerning their romantic life and if they were financially and emotionally and spiritually on their way to sealing their fate. Dateless weekend nights spent moaning the absence of male suitors. Time was ticking. We were 20 years old.
This is why I am wearing pants this Sunday, to support those less fortunate than I, to grow up in a home where there was never (even today, when at 25 and single, I am ripe and expired by mid-American standards, but have never felt more empowered) any assumption that I would ever be tied to another human being for temporal or spiritual welfare. Instead there were conversations about how much education I could continue to attain, the people I could meet, the careers I could have, the places I could go (and if I decided to stay home, that was perfectly evolved thinking as well, since I would electively choose that path).
My father, a born and bred city boy who grew up on the front lines of those efficacious ERA days (literally, down the street from the White House), might blush to admit that he is a full-fledged feminist (he, of course, possessing those wonderful East Coast sensibilities of understatement). But I beg to differ. And after presenting an educated argument before him (made possible by those suffragettes who came before), made none the less significant if I were his son or daughter, he would probably agree.