Editor’s note: The following post is part of a series in which a diverse range of women writers discuss their definition, idea, or experience of feminism. For more background, take a look at our Fall 2012 issue, which features “Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay. You can find other pieces in this series by clicking here.
My five-year-old granddaughter is smart, strong-willed, and brave. She is a keen observer and wants to do everything herself. She likes to sing, dance, wash dishes, and fold clothes. Thanksgiving Day she told me, “Girls are the cleaners and boys the mess makers.”
I nearly choked.
My response was that not all girls are cleaners and not all boys are mess makers. It was a lame thing to say because on Thanksgiving Day, the girls were the cleaners and the boys were the mess makers. She simply told the truth, a sign of a budding feminist.
At the fast rate she’s maturing, I imagine we will soon be able to discuss the crushing tide of social, political, legal, and economic inequality she will face as a woman. I’ll remind her of the way she taught herself to swim by watching her older brother and tell her I believe she is up to the task.
Until then, I will support her passion to clean and to dance and to sing. She has found her voice at a young age. And my hope is she holds on to her wave of enthusiasm and never lets go.
If she ever asks, “What is feminism?” I’ll tell her it’s an equal rights ballad sung by women who refuse to be drowned out. Our foremothers have written the first verses. But the narrative is unfinished. There are more lyrics to write and rivers to navigate.
At its core, feminism is both life raft and love song.
About the author: Darrelyn Saloom (@DarrelynSaloom) has published with Writer’s Digest, Tweetspeak Poetry, and Boxing.com. She co-wrote Deirdre Gogarty’s boxing memoir My Call to the Ring (Glasnevin, 2012), which was excerpted in VQR’s Fall 2012 issue, but her pugilistic passions are confined to a keyboard.