My parents are professional do-gooders. They are community workers with hearts of gold and stars in their eyes for only each other. My mom’s voice is loud; she commands a room with her words and her stance. My dad’s voice is quiet; the room reveres his presence as equally as he reveres theirs. We sprung from their genes, their teachings, their philosophies, and their hopes for us to be independent thinkers who would learn to engage in our communities.
My Auntie Anne, one of the strongest female influences in my life since before I can remember, once babysat for us over an entire weekend and taught us to say “Women, Unite! Take back the night!” as we forged on in an anti-violence and anti-pornography parade through the house. I was, give or take, about eight years old. My littlest sister would have been, give or take, about three in this scenario. We embraced her loud voice and the presence of her lesbian partners in our lives from our youngest days.
The first political demonstration I remember was a camp-in with my dad alongside a park full of homeless folks. I was not older than ten years old. The first conversation I had with my mom about her path to nursing began with her goal to find a career that would allow her the flexibility to travel and explore the world as widely as she desired for as long as she wanted to do so.
With these people as my base, how was I going to turn out any other way than…me?
I was recently accused by a male colleague of being “pretty much against everything” because I questioned status quo, because I raised distaste for something I didn’t like. Because I used my voice. To that I say, how can you be FOR something if you aren’t against that “something’s” opponent?
After some stewing, some self-defense, and some frustration, I cycle back to exactly where I started: a well-educated product of two do-gooders who refuses to accept status quo for the sheer sake of accepting. I truly believe that we should be for something — “for” lots of things. But to be “for” a certain political stance or outlook, you often have to question, reject, and criticize the frameworks that challenge your “something.”
I am “for” breastfeeding. This means I am against the blanket dispersal of formula, without attempting breastfeeding first and giving women unlimited lactation support resources. I am “for” the prevention of diabetes, which means I am against high-fructose corn syrup. I am “for” about 20 other things, which means I am against many things too. But not just because I want to argue. Because I want to really fight for the stuff I believe in.
When men have loud opinions, they are rarely shushed or backed into a virtual corner. When women have loud opinions, they are often deemed as man hating feminists. How have we gotten to 2013 and still, sexual and gender equality are at such a distance? Can I not be a man-loving feminist, with a voice as loud as is allowable for men? Because for those who really know me, that is who I am.
What you see is what you get. I am “for” more than I am against. I don’t believe that the world is only changed by the loud voices. But I wasn’t given a quiet voice, so why is that the one I would use?
One of my favorite midwives recently said about me, “your intentions are broadcast from your eyes like a clear bell.”
One of my favorite little kids recently said, about herself, “when I say what I say, I mean what I mean.” Her mama, by the way, a loud and proud lady.
Be “for” something. Whatever your something is.