Tag Archives: personal reflection

Family Friday: Moms

9 Mar

I could probably write a whole book about my relationship with my mom. It wasn’t up until a couple years ago that we got along.  This was also around the same time she realized things were pretty serious between the bf and I. Coincidence? I think not. Most of my childhood was spent in fighting matches, half in Korean and half in English, with her. It would end in tears and hateful words. That’s the past; here in present day, we get along quite well. Most of our conversations revolve around what I’m going to do with my life, when I’m getting married, and how I can lose weight.  And, of course, like all stereotypical mother-daughter relationships, we like to shop, we watch crappy TV together, and wear each other’s clothes. We DON’T get our nails done together; it’s just bad (she’s much too critical). In all seriousness though, my mother is the reason why I love fashion and food; she’s also the reason why I’m a feminist.

My mom immigrated to the US in the early 80’s and went to fashion school. Before this she was a business owner in Korea and made her own clothes. In the US, she lived the life of a woman who spoke English as second language and faced the realities of being an immigrant later on in life. While my mom talks about marriage there isn’t a time where she    doesn’t follow up her statements with “you have to be independent! Have your own money! Never rely on a man!” She is also the biggest proponent of higher education for women. My mom, in her own funny way, is a feminist to me. Even while she’s feeding me kimchi chigae and telling me to lose weight at the same time.    ~Vera~

*The picture is from a trip to Korea. This post made me miss my mom. A lot.

My mother and I have always had a somewhat contentious relationship.  It’s not so much that way now, but when I was younger I was a difficult child.  As the oldest child I was thrown into the role of my mother’s little helper, which I kinda resented.  I would do most of the things my mom asked of me, but not without questioning her as to why I had to do it.  When I was 9 my parents started to divorce, I say started because it was an ongoing battle for 2 years, and I felt like my mom relied on me even more.  However, this is also the time period where I got to start spending time one on one with my mom.  I’ve always had to “share” my mom with my siblings and I always felt like I didn’t get any attention.  I was never the one being coddled or soothed.  Since I was the oldest I was taught I had to be strong, my parents wanted me to be mentally and emotionally tough-this is what I resented.  Needless to say once I hit my teenage years I was feeling very angry at my mom.  I accused my mom of being selfish because she worked at a job that she enjoyed rather than the highest paying one she could get.  I hated her for moving us to a different state and the suburbs after the divorce.

Now that I’m older the things I disliked about my mom as a teenager I now admire as an adult.  I admire her choosing a job that she likes over a job that just pays well.  I appreciate her generosity and kindness; she is the most giving person I know.  She is intelligent, open minded, and non judgmental which she encouraged all her children to be.  The biggest lesson I learned from my relationship with my mom is you can’t put expectations on people, you can’t expect them to be something they are not.  My mom isn’t an affectionate person at all and I had to just accept that about her.  She tries though and she is just so awkward.  It took awhile, but I’m glad it didn’t take me too long to realize what an amazing woman my mother is. ~Phaydra~

*This pic was taken when I was 4, I’m the one in blue.

O,  my mother and me….all the things I could say! But I’ll stick to describing our relationship as electric. I wrote a whole paper about my mother, yes, talk about the personal is the political is the academic, is the everyday…. I consider her one of my best friends, no, I don’t tell her everything… I don’t think she could handle it, but we’re close. She’s over protective and pushy, but very loving and thoughtful. I think the best thing she has ever done is to be somewhat open about sex. She got pregnant with me at 16 and became a parent much too soon. She constantly reminded me of how difficult this made her life and so she always reminded me to use condoms. She drew diagrams to explain to me how my reproductive organs work and what was happening when I had my period. I am so lucky to have had this education, especially from my mom. So needless to say she rocks my socks. But I did say our relationship is electric which means that we can make sparks both in the positive and negative spectrum. So as much as we laugh, we shout. But recently, we have done much less shouting…  🙂 :::sigh::: I miss her.  ~maria~

An Intro To Feminism

24 Feb

Since there may be some readers who are unsure of what a feminist is or maybe have heard only negative stereotypes of what a feminist is, we wanted to share with you our thoughts.  We are each going to tell how we define a feminist and how we came to identify as feminists ourselves.

When and why I became a feminist can’t be pointed down to a specific moment. This consciousness has been building my entire life, I’m pretty sure I did some awesome feminist-y things before I can even remember. You wanna know why? Because my gender/sex has affected my entire life. The moment I was born I was placed in this category of girl/female and from then on expected to follow the norms associated with how my body was marked. I’m pretty sure I didn’t like these impositions, at least I want to believe my rebel spirit always made me question and resist these gender prescriptions.my earliest memory of my contestational self is the moment when my dad told me i could not drive a jeep because i was a girl. i raised hell at his reasoning arguing with him, constantly, about how unfair he was for treating me different because i was a girl. i was nine. i never drove a jeep but i do have a bad ass black montero sport with really wide tires. my dad help me fix this car. i feel like i won that argument. Now, as a person in their late 20s reflecting on my feminism I am thankful for my own interest in Women’s Studies because it has given a lot of flesh to this identity. By this i mean that i have to talk about class and race if i talk about gender because they are inseparable. here’s why: the same way my gender was imposed on my body so was my race and all of my experiences are sifted through my class (my parents are working class immigrants, hence the car story). i have the darkest skin color in my family other than my father. that is in relation to my very fair skinned mother.(which means i’m not dark skinned at all, i’m tan at best. but that’s semantics) she has called me “negra,” as a term of endearment, of course,all my life, but “negra” is still a loaded term because it always made me different from my brother and the rest of my family. plus, it emphasizes the long history of racial discrimination and racism that we live with everyday. i am in no way saying that this is traumatizing, not all. it actually made me question the racism in my family too. these details about my life just show how i have been a gendered and racialized person my entire life. as such, i have always been a feminist. feminism during my BA (where I met the gals on this blog) has given me a language with which to talk about these imposed categories, a way to keep that rebel spark alive and going. that training fuels the fire of disobedience so necessary to transform our everyday lives, and i still have hope, the world.        ~maria~

Feminism to me? My belief is that feminism is equality for all in all institutions, the ability for you to be who you want to be without society passing judgment on you. There should be no enforcing of these judgments in policy in any institution. I believe that feminism celebrates women’s shared experiences as well as their differences. Feminism has an understanding that not all women experience life the same way and draw from those differences to improve our lives and society.

So when did I become a feminist? I’ve always felt in my heart that there was always some underlying sexism happening throughout my life and that it was total bullshit. I couldn’t put my finger on it though.  I recall sitting in freshman year PE class in high school having this conversation about how unfair it was that if a guy had multiple partners he was rewarded/celebrated while a girl was called a slut if she were to do the same. Fast-forward five years and it’s the first day of my intro to women’s studies class. We went over some basic ideas of feminism and that was when I had my “ah-ha!” moment. I finally had it! I was a feminist! So that’s what all those ideas came from, I was a big ol’ fucking feminist and there was no turning back. I’m glad. I’m thankful for that day and being a feminist.       ~vera~

To me a feminist means a person who believes everyone deserves equal human rights and life opportunities regardless of sex.  The differences between the sexes are appreciated and that one is not better than the other.  They are equal.  I prefer the term equalist, but I think it’s just a word I made up.

I think I was born a feminist.  I called my mother to confirm whether this was true or not.  I even ended up asking if my ideals were my own or if I just adopted hers and I needed to do some questioning.  As soon as I said that though and processed it I knew that it wasn’t true.  My ideals are similar to my mother’s, but that is because I have chosen them.  So, I can’t exactly blame my mom for turning me into a feminist, but this is how she influenced me:

  • She kept her last name when she married and gave it to me
  • She’s a social worker-she’s seen the awful stuff you read about in the news up close
  • She’s a single mom
  • She left a domestic abuse relationship
  • She taught me no one can make me do something I don’t want to-which backfired on her when I started skipping school, but a very valuable lesson for me
  • Always stand up for yourself even if it means you are standing alone
  • It’s about how smart you are, not how pretty or popular you are
  • She-Ra, CNN, & Disney.  Haha, ok I’m sure you’re wondering about these.  My mom believes these were all positive female role models in my life.  She-Ra was a fighter.  CNN has strong female reporting.  And Disney because when I was a kid that is when The Little Mermaid, Beauty &The Beast, and Aladdin all came out.  Ariel, Belle, and Jasmine were smart and strong, defiant characters.

I didn’t start actually calling myself a feminist until my last semester of my last year of college.  I took an upper level Sociology class Differences of The Sexes, or something like that.  That’s where I was exposed to feminism, but a very white feminism, such as Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan.  This class is what helped me to realize that what I want to do with my life is work for equality and you know, since I’m a female, I figured I’d focus on women’s rights since they seem to be lacking.  So, I graduated college.  I somehow procured a scholarship to attend any state school in Illinois, but it was only at the bachelor’s level.  Since I had graduated I didn’t know what I was going to do and had been looking at Master’s programs, but since I was still undecided and had this scholarship I decided to get a second bachelor’s.  In Women’s Studies.       ~Phaydra~

Do you have a story to share?  Did you think feminism was something different?

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