The Inadvertent Feminist

HannahHannah BurryBuffalo, NY @hburry

I don’t think that my dad would tell you that he raised me to be a feminist.  I think what he would tell anyone who asked about me is that he raised me to be strong, independent, and to believe in equality.  I don’t know if he realized it at the time, but he was raising me to be a feminist.  I won’t give him all the credit, I was raised by two, wonderful, amazing, and strong people.  My mom and dad were always equal partners when I was growing up and because of their relationship I expect to be treated as an equal in any relationship I enter into.

I think that feminism starts at home, whether it’s because children are inspired by their parents or because children are mistreated and they feel like feminism is an outlet.  For me, feminism started at home.  I was raised to be an equal.  I was raised to believe in myself.  It was instilled in me that I can do whatever I set my mind to.  My parents never made me feel like I was going to be held back because of my gender.

I lived in a house where household chores were shared because that was what was fair.  My dad did all the cooking, my mom did the laundry, not because she is a woman but because she says it helps her relax.  I grew up in a house that didn’t make me conform to gender roles.  I had both Barbie dolls and pirate ships.  I was raised by two feminists, even if they don’t know it.

Doug, my dad, was born in 1965.  He was raised by two liberal parents.  He grew up in an inner ring suburb of Cleveland in a mixed race neighborhood. My dad was raised by very forward thinking people, so I have them to thank for my feminism as well.  If he had been raised differently he may have been taught that women are not equal and that marriage is not a partnership.  I am thankful every day that my dad was raised to believe in equality, regardless of race or gender.

I was never told that I couldn’t do something because I am a woman.  My parents made sure that I had every opportunity that they could afford when I was kid.  I wasn’t expected to accomplish less than my male counterparts because I was a girl.  My dad never told me I couldn’t do something, in fact he did the opposite — he told me I could do anything.  When I was a freshman in high school my guidance counselor told me I couldn’t be a lawyer because I wasn’t smart enough, that I should look for a job more my caliber, maybe a paralegal.  I went home completely distraught and my dad told me not to listen to her. He told me I could do whatever I want because I am a strong, intelligent person.

If there were more men in the world like Doug then the world would be a better place.  If men inspired their daughters like my dad inspired me, if they treated them no differently than their sons, if fathers treated their daughters like people who could do whatever they set their minds to, that would make the world a better, more equal place.

I want to take this moment to say thank you to all the inadvertent feminists out there.  I want to thank the fathers who teach their daughters that they can do anything and the men who raise their sons to treat women as equals.  I think that if there were more people like my dad and my mom, because I won’t leave her out, in the world it would be a more equal place.  And I know that if I ever have kids I will raise them like my parents raised me.  I will be equal in my partnership with my husband or boyfriend, and I will raise my children to be good, to be fair, and above all of that, I will raise my children to demand to be treated equally regardless of gender.

Your StoriesErin Bagwell