This is not how I expected this post to go at all.
Rewind to last week, me geeking out over onesies, hunched over my contact paper cutting out intricate baby sized letters with my exacto. Beaming with pride, because THIS project of mine was more genius than anything I've made before. I told everyone I knew about it... after all, who WOULDN'T want an adorable"This Is What a Feminist Looks Like" shirt for their newborn boy?
The answer? Lots of people.
So then I'm in Utah, showing my baby gifts to my bestie. I pulled out the vintage overalls, "Real Babies Wear Pink" shirts, tattooed sleeved outfits for infants, but I made sure to save the best for last. When I pulled out the feminism onesie she screeched with laughter, loving it every bit as much as me. Big ol' smile on my face. And then, the Mister came home. Let me preface with this first: I like him a lot. He is a goofy, mellow, kind hearted non-conformist. And they are SO happy together. So it stunned me when she showed him my creation and he asked "Feminist is which one? For or against women?" I played off my shock and explained that a Feminist believes in everyone having equal rights no matter their gender. I'm pretty sure I saw it waft right over his head. Later, he pointedly said to his wife: "I don't want pictures of our baby in that shirt on the internet..." Lets just pause for a moment, so I can hang my head and sigh.
Remember how I wrote about how important it is to both act AND educate? How you can't just do one or the other and expect change? Case in point right here. I live in a liberal city, and though we're surrounded by a conservative state it still catches me off guard when I realize that many (I think if you were to do the numbers it would be most) people just. Don't. Know. They don't know what feminism means. They don't know what Obama stands for. The majority don't even know what Romney stands for. They don't know about laws being passed. They don't know about the discrimination that hundreds of minorities face. They don't know about the imbalance of power that exists even at a county level. They don't know about prison protocol. They don't know about conception and termination. They don't know about historical facts vs. myths. They don't know what a mental illness actually is. They don't know more than one reason why a person might be fat. They don't know, they don't know, they don't fucking know.
I challenge you to make a conscious effort to educate those around you for the next month. This is incredibly tricky, because people tend to be terrified of what they don't know. A good starting point is making sure you choose the right audience. The angry Christians on a liberal fan page telling you to "go to hell" would most likely be an exhausting waste of your time. Same with the missionaries on Temple Square. Same with your Hells Angel boss. If you find those that are able to think on their own and are open to new things, even small changes like foods and trips, you might see more progress. Be diplomatic. The second irritation is apparent, people will switch into fight or flight mode which mutes every word you say. And try talking with someone, and not at them. What they have to say is important too. Ask them questions, listen to their answers, repeat back what they say, and build your conversation off of theirs. Often, they already know the answer; you just have to ask the right question. So, no, I probably won't sit the Mister down and explain the history of Women's rights to him. However, I will be honest in my conversations while here. Honest, as in, I'm not going to censor myself to reach his comfort levels. Sometimes, just to hear information in a non-threatening manner is enough to think about later. Sometimes reading facts is enough to think about later. Sometimes seeing yard signs is enough to think about later. Sometimes talking about it, and moving on peaceably is enough to think about later.
Initially, I wanted to present you with adorable pictures of Baby in his incredible outfit, telling the world that he believes in equality... but, yeah. Not in this lifetime. However, instead I have the opportunity to show Dad that "feminist" isn't a bad word after all. And maybe, if someday Dad catches on, then Mr. Baby will have the open minded childhood that I dream of for him.
We shall see.