I just finished watching the first part of “Makers: Women Who Make America” and am incredibly moved and inspired. I am a feminist but I am also a victim of the sexist society I’ve been raised in. I know who Gloria Steinem is. I have an audio version of “The Feminine Mystique” that I’ve never listened to. As a child I grew to love and admire Eleanor Roosevelt and carried several of her quotes into court with me during my custody battle. But I know very little about any of the waves of the feminist movement. In school we were not taught about it. Raised by a single mom I thought very little about women not being in the workforce and I took for granted that I was being told I could do and be anything that I wanted. I played sports. I was in academic extracurriculars and mixed choruses. After the second wave of feminism there was a complacency and what I feel was a neglect to keep the spirit of the movement alive in the young girls and women.
I find myself often thinking about how and why I became a victim of domestic violence. How is it that after the courage, determination and hard work of our foremothers did I manage to marry a man firmly planted in a white patriarchal society? How is it we still live in a society that sexualizes women and prevents them from taking their rightful place alongside men at the helm? And what happened to Ms. Magazine?
I have never seen a copy of Ms. Magazine on the newsstand or on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. I have never seen the editor of Ms. on a talk show or seen citations of recent articles. I assumed the publication no longer exists. In this first part of “Makers” there is a reference to an early issue of Ms. that featured stories about domestic violence with a black eyed battered wife on the front cover. I “Googled Ms. Magazine domestic violence” and was surprised to find several new articles at www.MsMagazine.com. Does it still exist? It does and there is even an article about DV and the NFL in the current issue. With a rickety, user un-friendly website 4 issues are printed each year. And I am now a subscriber.
We live in a time when women are better able to leave violent home lives and can report sexual assault, despite the difficulties and failures of the system we have made headroom. We have such a long ways to go and I am grateful to be a part of that conversation. Today I participated in a 5k to support the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault to conclude Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Across the country women and men are working together to make campuses and communities safer. We are having these difficult conversations and again we need leaders to step forward and make their voices heard.
I am fortunate to live in a time when, as a woman, I have opportunities. I mother in a time when I can teach my son to respect women and to give him examples of how women are his equals and just as capable as men. But societal norms must change. Gender roles have to be dismantled and the pink and blue sections of the toy stores have to be brought down. If as a young woman I was handed a copy of Ms. instead of Glamour or Cosmopolitan, maybe I would have been that much closer to knowing better.