Monday, May 04, 2009

Is that your mother on the phone?

Early May is the time to celebrate my mother's birthday (for that, unsurprisingly, is when she was born). So, happy birthday Mum! Not that you read this blog, thank goodness. One feature of the event this year was my sister declaring herself to be a feminist. Hurrah! Apparently she got very into gender when researching her dissertation. Her own description of this epiphany was "Damn those men with penises" (men without penises apparently not so bad) but she hastened to point out that this was in a socio-historical context, rather than a straightforward men=teh evils way. Anyway, I'm not going to push her, but I'm pleased and excited that she's discovering feminist thought. Hopefully she'll start to form her internal narrative over the next year or so and then we can have lots of interesting discussions. Where I will attempt not to trample all over her views. Go me.

This whole episode is completely bewildering to my mother, who for years has treated my own feminism like a slightly socially awkward speech impediment. She was pleased when I announced my impending marriage (which probably merits a whole other blog post - do not get me started on the inherent contradictions in my decision to do this) - I think she secretly thought I was going to become a lesbian and join a commune. However, now that my sister has joined in, it's even more perplexing to her.

"What did I do?" she asked, as though maybe it was because she'd allowed us to eat too many e-numbers as children. Then: "Why did it pass me by?"

This is an interesting question. I've always felt a bit left out, because other feminists seem to talk a lot about how they were inspired by the feminism of their own mothers. This was certainly not the case with me. And it's not that she's particularly anti-feminist, more that she just never thought feminism was an issue that concerned her. I don't think she'll ever really "get" why feminism is important to me, but I guess my sister and I have the chance to do things the other way round - perhaps, after a while, we might inspire feminism in my mother. And that would be just as good.

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