Saturday, December 4, 2010

A conversation with a republican...who happens to be my mother.

I just had a rad two hour conversation with my mom and her boyfriend about nearly every issue that we’ve covered in this course!!! These are two people that are extremely conservative, republican, and anti-immigration, yet they listened to what I had to say with open ears and hearts. We talked about how screwed up the messaging is that we receive from the media; about violence against women, about messaging regarding masculinity and about what we can do as individuals to change this.
One of the most important points for me was when I told my mom a little bit about the horrific events happening to migrants traveling through Mexico. She seemed overwhelmed and I thought she was going to leave the room, but she stayed and I was able to explain why it’s important to realize that these acts are taking place. I told her how I cried for two days after reading Because She Looks like a Child and watching DeNadia. She looked at me and asked why I let myself enter that state explaining that I can’t let these issues get to me in such extremes. I told her that we must face violence against women and all humans in order to care enough to want to change it. If I keep living my life in ignorance it means that I will be living a life of negligence. She then told me that I can’t change the whole world and gave examples of how there are always going to be greedy, messed up people who you can’t change. I agreed, but said that she and I both can work towards change in our immediate communities by: changing the way we use language as a tool of oppression and engaging in constructive conversations regarding sexism and racism. We can speak to children and those who will listen and pass on these tools. In this way our compassion will radiate out from us in concentric circles.
I won’t reiterate the entire conversation here. What’s important to me is that I feel as though I now have the knowledge and vocabulary to articulate why oppression, in the broadest sense, is of utmost importance for everyone to recognize if we are going to create any sort of forward momentum.
At the end of the conversation I asked my mom if she considered herself to be a feminist; she looked at me and asked, “what’s the exact definition?” to which I replied, “to be honest, it’s complicated, but do you agree that women, and minorities are being oppressed pan-culturally, and that it needs to change?” Her answer was this: “well then hell yeah I’m a feminist!” Woohoo!

Becky Rae

1 comment:

  1. Becky, thanks for sharing such a great conversation with your mother. It surprises me time and time again who people from different polarities are all "on the same page," "once all the fat gets cooked off." I think the ambiguity of the modern feminist movement has caused much confusion, including for myself, as to the definition and agenda of the modern movement. I think it is critical to maintain that Feminism addresses the inequalities imposed by sexism. Not that Feminist are not concerned with more, surely they are, but for the movement to stay strong it needs to stay focused. That being said, however, I and every other person who does social justice work has a responsibility to remember what is arguably the most important lesson of the long, wonderful and difficult history of social justice organizing: one oppression can't be uprooted without at the same time and with the same intensity, battling all other oppressions that make life less fair for all people.

    I want to thank you for fully taking in the difficulties faced by people you and I cannot necessarily identify with. If more people were as open as you to being emotionally jarred, justice may happen faster.