Ready to fight

In college I was very socially involved. I wasn’t dropping banners from building rooftops or anything but was a part of campus politics and spent a lot of time in room 441 of the student union eating pizza and getting pissed off at the administration, the government, the world. I went to Washington to march for women’s rights. I had a fire that burned inside me and it could not be tamed.

Eventually the fire died down. It’s not that I no longer cared about those issues but I also cared about not being depressed. It’s hard to see the world for what it really is. It’s hard to get worked up about every sexist thing you see. I live in this society and honestly, it sucks. It’s hard and sad and for my own mental health I had to choose to ignore some of the really bad stuff. I’ve felt myself slip from my ideals – I say things here and there that I know are inappropriate. I catch myself seeing the side of the oppressor in arguments from time to time. I no longer spell women with a “y’ in professional correspondence. But I do the best I can. I have a tattoo that has been on my arm for almost ten years – A woman’s symbol with the word “revolution” running though it. I remind myself that every move I make is one of a feminist and if it’s not I hold myself responsible. I remind myself that being a feminist in this world is taking action, even if it doesn’t always feel like that.

I’ve been preparing for this to change as I enter motherhood. I want my child to see the world and see social justice. I want to take them to protests and have real conversations about privileged and inequality. I told myself at 21 that I couldn’t change the world – that’s something I never want to tell them. I want to find a way to show them how to speak up and rally for change without feeling defeated. I’m not sure if that is possible but I want to try.

This stuff in Ferguson is getting to me a lot. (I’m just going to assume you all know what I am talking about.) Our country is at war abroad but also here. Things are getting worse and kids keep dying. I had a really hard time with Trayvon Martin and there have been so many deaths since then and Michael Brown is just the latest in a long list of names that keeps getting longer. I watch my friends get upset about school shootings (which are TERRIBLE, I am not denying that) in white communities and turn a blind eye to the race wars going on in our country. I am much more terrified of police brutality than school shootings, to be honest. This is a very scary time and in six weeks I will bring a child into it. I know so many people who don’t talk about these issues with their kids – I just don’t get it. I can’t imagine having to explain these events to my child but I also can’t imagine not having that conversation. I feel no greater responsibility as a parent than to speak to my child about race and class and privilege. But on days like today, on weeks like this week, I sit with a heavy heart and acknowledge that I can no longer keep my head in the sand. I will do my duty as a parent and teach my child to be an activist. I just hope I can help them find a better balance than I could.

On a final note, this song has been in my head all day and I thought someone else out there might need it, too. The link is crappy and from myspace because no one listens to Ember Swift anymore but her songs were a big part of my life (as was my huge crush on her) before everything got too much for me and she moved to China and married a man. There are so many times I hear her songs on a loop in my head – this one is on today.
https://myspace.com/emberswift/music/song/rubber-bullets-raggae-protest-mrch-49149158-52867285

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Posted on August 14, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. EMBER SWIFT MOVED TO CHINA AND MARRIED A MAN?

  2. This brings up so many memories and a lot of the same issues my wife and I have been talking about over the last few days. I remember driving to upstate New York to see Alix Olson perform in 2003, which ended up being the night the Iraq war officially began. Going to anti-war protests in DC, and even in our little midwestern town during college. Then finishing school and all activism energy being drained out of me by the low-wage jobs that were available.
    Now I feel that raising a white child in our society is a bit of a terrifying responsibility, akin to what I’ve heard people say about raising boys within a rape culture.

  3. I saw Ember Swift perform last year here in Toronto and she talked about marrying a man and moving to China. Something I hadn’t known before and nearly shit a brick!

  4. I know what you mean. I go back and forth between being very involved and aware to needing a break from all the awful things happening. It doesn’t help that my wife and I both work in the social justice field either. I too hope we raise our kids to be activists and to be informed.

  5. Your kid is going to be very lucky to have you two as parents, to get to be raised in the environment of activism instead of having to find their own way there. I haven’t been by here in awhile & was just thinking about you two and wondering how you & pregnancy were progressing – not to be totally off topic on this post. But a little on-topic, I was at that rally in Washington too! We bussed there from WI (singing B&A’s Feminist Housewives on the way, of course) and then! Gloria Steinem was there! Sorry, I hadn’t thought about The Great March in ages so it was exciting to be reminded. Also, Alix Olson.. love.

    It is so easy to be an activist in college. How does the real world manage to suck it out of us so quickly? But I really think that having kids (for me & DW anyways) helps rekindle the passion, gives that (sorely needed) extra motivation to do better, be better, make the world better. And for the record, I don’t know how “bonded” I felt with R before she was born, except when I heard a certain song or when she kicked. I was really excited (and anxious) and I did have the whole can’t-wait-to-meet-you feelings, but it wasn’t until she was born and I looked into her eyes that I was flooded with indescribable, overwhelming feelings of love. And btw, R came almost a week after her due date… who knows, you might end up with an extra week or two! And feel utterly insane. But maybe that was just me with my mid-August sweltering heat baby. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I recently discovered your blog and had to comment on this post because so much of what you describe sounds familiar. It’s hard to balance being aware of important things happening in the world with taking care of oneself and not getting overwhelmed. And for me it has gotten harder since becoming a parent. I have even less time/energy to be involved in overtly political things, but I also feel even more strongly how important it is (both to make the world better for my kids and to be a role model for them). I try to remember that the parenting work itself is important (especially when I’m doing things like telling my son it’s okay for him to like pink sneakers or helping him learn to be a good friend to kids who are different from him).
    And I love(d) Ember Swift too! I’m all for people making the choices that are right for them and not being hemmed in by boxes, but it’s crazy how many of the queer icons who were important to me when I was coming out have ended up married to men.
    Congrats on the pregnancy,and I look forward to hearing more about your adventures!

    • I agree about the parenting work being important. I’ve got to remind myself that I’m impacting the world in little ways all the time and that raising a child will be the biggest impact I make.

      I’m also all for people making choices that are right for them but it sure is a sign to me that I’m getting old when my coming out icons are different now. It’s harder to pretend I am still 19. ๐Ÿ™‚

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