It’s hard to start talking about how I live out my feminism in my life, every day. Not because I don’t, but because it’s such a critical part of how I operate. My feminism is interwoven into how I perceive the world, into every action I take. It can be hard to step back and itemize, or even to recall specific examples or instances that show my efforts or experiences. But why not try? And in the way I know best…a list.
Work is probably one of the easiest places to start, because feminism and women’s rights in the workplace are a hot topic these days. And of course, I have opinions. I am privileged to work in a field (People Operations, aka HR/Operations) where a huge part of my job is cultivating our workplace culture. I’ve been able to enact things such as a generous parental leave policy, regular compensation reviews for all employees, and gender-inclusive bathrooms to help create an environment that is friendly to all. I constantly remind myself to speak up in meetings, and to fight for my seat at the executive table (while also, of course, second-guessing myself, because feminism isn’t easy and confidence isn’t always natural). I ask for what I’m worth and prove my value, but also try to look around at my male executive counterparts to see how much they’re trying to prove themselves versus just letting the work speak for itself…and then I try to be more like that. I hate to think of it this way, but I do find it helpful to ask myself, “How would I act if I were a man?” or “What would I do in this situation if I were one of the men in the room?” and then just do that. Mostly, it means editing my emails to include less “I just think” and “let me know if I’m totally wrong here”, and more definitive, clear statements.
Recreationally, I try to consume art with a feminist bent. I read articles by feminist writers. I fill my mind with as much writing, art, and music by women as possible. When I read something that strikes me, I share it with as many people as will listen (have I talked your ear off about the latest Star Wars yet? has the internet?). I support female artists, and in general, work that has something to say. I surround myself with intelligent, curious, questioning people (not too hard to do living in Berkeley, CA). I purchase gifts for my friends’ children based on their interests, not based on what I can find in the “7 year old girl” section of the store. I feel a little bit subversive when I purchase school supplies for charity and buy the “Kindergarten Girl” a green dinosaur backpack instead of a Frozen one (though don’t get me wrong, I love princesses too). I will encourage my future children to do the same – to pursue whatever hobbies and activities are interesting to them, regardless of gender. I was super into ballet, but if I have a daughter and she wants to play soccer, that’s great. If I have a son who wants to dance, I’ll be supportive. Unless s/he wants to play football. Sorry kids, no concussions in this house.
In general, I guess I’d say that my feminism IS my everyday life. It’s about choices, and being in an environment that supports my choices – whether that’s regarding my healthcare or my career pursuits or my recreational activity. I struggled for a long time to reconcile my feminism with my hankerings for housewifery (I’ve written about this before), ultimately coming to the conclusion that I can love to keep house and care for children and cook and bake and also be a feminist. To me, it’s about standing up for what you care for, pushing yourself to be and do the best you can, and following the path that feels right to you, even if that path changes directions a hundred times.
My feminism is about choice.