“I’ve never met a Feminist…”

Last Friday night I was at a Christmas fete and someone asked me what I do with my life. This is a short recap of the conversation that ensued.

(Disclaimer: I was a little intoxicated and not at my most articulate, however this is also when I tend to FEEL most articulate.)

Lovely self-identified male human: What do you do?

My most articulate self: I’m doing a masters in Gender and Development

LSIMH: What is gender?

MMAS: *realizing I was not currently articulate enough to dive into the depths of defining gender studies* In short, I am a feminist.

LSIMH: I’ve never met a feminist.

MMAS: You probably have. You probably are one.

LSIMH: *Looks at me skeptically*

And so the conversation went on and I proceeded to explain that…

being a feminist simply means that you believe in equality not just for women but for any and all humans who are otherwise oppressed or denied privilege/citizenship/space to exist due to whatever forces (mostly patriarchal) exist in their worlds…

…obviously this took around five to ten minutes to explain in entirety BUT this LOVELY self identified male human did understand my explanation completely.

And that felt great.

But retrospectively, here’s what sucked;

“I’ve never met a feminist.” 

We all know why a lot of people – including actual practicing feminists – are terrified of the label Feminist and self-identifying feminists.

As the LSIMF asked me; no we don’t all burn bras, yes some of us are sexually attracted to men, and YES of COURSE we support and fight for the rights of men who are oppressed by the same patriarchy that oppresses us all.

By now, correct me if I’m wrong, most of us know that all feminists are not the extremists or radicals who made such a mark in historic media that people paint all feminists with the same brush.

(Seriously, correct me if I’m wrong in the comments because sometimes I worry that I live in a bubble of wonderfully open-minded persons)

So since most of us know this, and since it only takes five to ten minutes to explain to those who may not have heard the feminist news, can we stop being so worried about scaring away the public and just HAVE these cute little fem-versations?

I think most people are ready to hear us now.

And if they are ready to hear us, they may be ready to claim it with us too.

 

 

 

[Banner Image from Ms. Foundation for Women]

Advertisements

A Critique of Critique.

What would happen if we stopped critiquing and started loving?

Is the answer to ‘lovingly critique’, or is that just a polite cover up?

What if we stopped critiquing the work of our peers who have all the right intentions, and if we instead only tried to see the good and the great in their work? To see their efforts and intentions rather than what they unintentionally misrepresented, under represented or generalized?

Should Rupi Kaur be critiqued as having generalized the experience of South Asian women by utilizing the pronoun ‘we’? Or should she be celebrated for using her own voice to try and bring a voice to women who the world tries to render voiceless?

What would happen to my work, our work, your work, if we began to praise and left out the critique? Could this be the answer to transcending boundaries and crossing borders? Would it enable and encourage us to produce works that progressively transcend, build on and link with each other’s?

Maybe a movement cannot be built from intentions. But maybe shifting our intentions away from critique and towards love can help build a movement.

If I’m not the “single-mom” you want me to be…

Today, because apparently I go looking for irritation , I googled “dating while a single mother”. Why? Sometimes I want to know what people are putting out there to vulnerable minds.
Here’s what I found:

“Single mothers have become the women they’re meant to be.”

“Single moms are kinder to themselves.”

“Single mothers are a stronger, happier version of themselves.”

Soooooo, basically single mothers are supposed to suddenly…upon becoming a single mother…whether it was at conception…or IMMEDIATELY upon the finalization of their separation from their partners…. have it ALL together.
Find their purpose in life,

(which is obviously mothering and mothering alone)

love themselves entirely despite recent traumas, and be a whole NEW and improved version of themselves.

Looking back on my beginning as a single parent, or ‘single-mom’ as most people term me, I have only one regret.

I regret how much I cared about what people thought of me.

Starting out as a single parent from pregnancy is a whole lot different than becoming a single parent later on in your child’s life. Shame was projected on to me in a way that made me entirely hell-bent on proving every one wrong. Therefore, I had to be the perfect parent, and my child had to have it all. And while trying to be perfect mom and give my child the best of the best, I had to LOOK like I had it all together.

I absolutely did NOT have it all together. And I absolutely KNEW that I didn’t have it all together. Depression and frustration were staples in my life. But so long as no one saw that; so long as I looked the part, reality didn’t matter. It only mattered that I proved them wrong…or at least made them think I did.

Two points of realization:

  1. People expect WAY too much from single mothers. (Not single fathers. Single mothers.)
  2. If I’m not the “single-mom” you want me to be…

That’s just too darn bad.

 

For all my single mammas from all walks of life,
Stop fighting. Start living.

 

 

The Mundane Revolution

Summer. Break.
After three long MSc semesters crammed in along parenting a 3 year old boy and building new relationships, the holiday I’ve been waiting for has arrived.

I’m bored. 

Netflix.
I can’t even seem to work up the energy to read books for enjoyment, even though I managed to find time while I was busy with school not too long ago.

Is being stuck in a holiday rut a thing?

With all my “spare time” (jk, there is literally NO such thing as spare time when you have a toddler) I’ve been thinking and rethinking my conceptualization of Revolution.

I’ve learned that our daily lives can be Revolutionary, and that realization stands whether we aim to make the world better every day, or whether we try to better ourselves every day.

For the longest time I thought that I was given motherhood when I did not ask for it. However I realize now that even though I was not expecting to be expecting, I fought to be a mother from the moment I was expecting. I still fight for it every day.

I fight to prove to the ignorant ones that single parenting is still parenting.
And I challenge myself everyday to be a better parent.

Mothering is Revolutionary. But let’s be honest, it’s mostly mundane.

Being a parent is, of course, full of those moments one hopes for;
All the firsts,
The moments in which you realize your child is a genius,
The times they showcase their unique talents,
The times they prove to be a loving human and your heart swells.

However, most days, it’s a litany of
feeding,
wiping,
cleaning,
feeding,
scolding,
cleaning,
feeding,
bathing,
endless questions,
more feeding
then finally…BED TIME.

Repeat the next day.
Every day.
Mundane.

The daily grime of parenting a toddler along with the daily grind of a Masters program; this is the mundane Revolution.

In parenting, education, work, or whatever your daily life is,

I live Revolution.
We live Revolution.

We work to better ourselves, raise competent and compassionate humans and ultimately to better the world around us both through our work and the children we leave behind.

Tell me that isn’t Revolutionary.

 

PS: Writing this post was considered an interruption to my son, who considers eye contact ALL day a necessity. While writing this, I broke concentration 7 times in 12 minutes to assist in a numbers matching game. “Spare time”.

 

Letter to My Young Woman Sister

I can’t call you little anymore because you’re not. You never were. You were always wise.

I hope these words resonate with you as you grow, and I hope you carry them forward.

Sometimes in our teenage years we underestimate our own wisdom, but you carry the experiences of the sisters before you, your mother, and your ancestors wherever you go. Call on this wisdom often.

When you feel like you’re own power is limited, remember you carry the power of many. Stand tall.

Sometimes those jeans ain’t gon fit those curves of yours. That’s fine…those jeans weren’t made for perfection.

Don’t let them define you as exotic because your melanin shines with all its rightful glory. Continue to be exquisite instead, and be exotic on your own terms.

Learning how to love and be loved is just as important now as it will always be.
In learning to love and be loved, be gentle and careful with yourself.

Be patient, don’t rush.
Set boundaries.
Do not let them be crossed. Ever.

Love fiercely, and protect yourself ferociously. 

Love aside, friends aside, family aside,

You are your own priority.

Focus on you. Focus on perfecting the Queen you have always been. But be careful while doing this, because Queens are never selfish.

Don’t live in pre-defined terms. Be thoughtful and inquisitive. Set your own terms. Live in your own truth.

They will tell you there are so many things you can do to lose your worth. They lie. You can never lose your worth.

You are ALWAYS worth it.
You are ALWAYS loved.
You are ALWAYS a Queen.

You are always a Queen.

You are all my Sisters.

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Book Club

My sisters and I, who span the world across continents, have decided to start a travelling book club. The idea sprang from our mutual love for literature…specifically literature written by women of colour. For so long we’ve been writing raving reviews in our WhatsApp group chat about the books we read and how we wish we could share them.

It finally hit me…book club by mail. Wherein we read literature, write some comments and mark some favourite parts before mailing the books on to the next person, until they make their way back home. Around the same time, my sister-in-law and I also decided to swap some books utilizing the suitcases of family who travel between Trinidad and Canada. Everyone one of us is so excited at the prospect that we’ve become motivated to read more in order to share more.

What is it about The Sisterhood of the Travelling Book Club that has us all excited? It’s exactly what has women of colour all over the globe so excited and eager to unite and share our wisdom.

We, Women of Colour, are finding our Colourful voices.

Nayyirah Waheed
Rupi Kaur
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ijeoma Umebinyuo
Maya Angelou
Yrsa Daley-Ward
Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Ahrundhati Roy
Yaa Gyasi
Audre Lorde

These are only some of the names of the women who’s work is inspiring us, who’s voices inspire us to mold our own.

As we explore our own voices, listen to others, relate across similarities, differences, boundaries, and a mutual desire for unity and freedom, I hope we never forget to add our own writing to the compilation which can inspire future generations of women.

“we all move forward when we recognize how resilient and striking the women around us are”

– Rupi Kaur.

 

 

Doubles with Slight

I love doubles. We all love doubles. For my non-local readers, if you haven’t had doubles yet, find some. It’s my intention for my conversations to be your weekly dose of doubles
…with slight.
I try not to have doubles more than once a week, though some weeks my appetite for doubles, and writing, is bigger than others.

Why doubles with slight? Because ordering a doubles with slight is pretty much as unpredictable as a three year old who has just consumed an entire tube of M&M minis (yes, I have a three year old with a serious M&M addiction). As we’ve all experienced, ordering a doubles with slight means you end up eating a doubles somewhere between slight and probably ALL the pepper the doubles vendor had in that bucket somehow crammed into your two barra. Regardless of the level of slight you are gifted with, it’s always a great experience.

I hope that is what my blog will be. Some days my pepper hand will be heavier than others, and some days things will be mild and lovely.

Either way, I will strive for it to always be enjoyable, and I promise it will go down well with an Apple J, or a cup of tea if you find that more appropriate for reading purposes.

Love,

Your friendly feminist doubles woman.