It happened when I took a course at Bakersfield College: Introduction to Women in American History, even though I have my degree. I took it as what I call “my non-chemical anti-depressant.”
I needed to be sure I had to show up someplace beyond schlepping my kids around and being home. I figured if I had paid for the class, bought the book, and starting going to classes I would be compelled to continue. I knew on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:30 I was expected to be in my seat, two rows from the front in the middle.
I didn’t expect it to be so life changing. I only took this class because Ethics of Living and Dying was full before I had the chance to register.
I worked harder in that one class than many of the classes I took when I was earning my B.A. thirty years ago. I was devoted. I talked about what I was learning to my friends all the time. I was taught in the old school way. We didn’t learn social history. We didn’t learn about women’s contributions to anything important. We learned about wars and presidents, basically.
This was different.
I also identified myself as a feminist. When I started this class I had been involved with the VDay Movement started by Eve Ensler to Stop Violence Against Girls and Women, partially through using her script “The Vagina Monologues” to raise money for local community groups.
I never gave thought for a moment about whether my fellow students of women’s history defined themselves as feminists or not.
I can’t remember what the occasion was, but I was busily writing something in my notebook when our professor, Ann Wiederrect, asked “How many of you are feminists.” I raised my hand and kept scribbling.
My professor said, “Julie. I see.”
I put my hand down and my head up.
I was the sole person in the class who defined herself as a feminist. I was dumbstruck at first. How could none of them call themselves feminists? Were they still stuck in the stereotype that feminists were all man-hating, camouflage wearing butch women who shook their fists at “the rest of the world” and marched around occasionally spewing man hate into society?
For whatever reason, I had a photo of my daughter tucked into the back of my notebook. It is one of my favorites and had been entered in an art show in the past so it had a suitable name:
Feminist, Age 10.
When it was my turn to speak my words came out in flames. My words and I were steadfast, slow-burning, hot but not scorching, passionate but not condescending. “This is my ten-year-old daughter. She is a feminist. She wants to be seen as equal with everyone regardless of gender” and other things which got lost in my fervor.
I passed the photo around, said a few more words and sat down, still mystified.
When the class was over, most participants – even the sole man in the class – were newly identified as feminists.
Average, run-of-the-mill community college students who finally understood just the tiniest spoonful of feminism and for some, were left thirsty for more. Like I was and am and will continue to be.
For reference, feminism equals “movement to end sexism, sexual exploitation, and oppression”, including but not limited to oppression based on race, sexual/gender identity, disability, class, and age.
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© 2012 by Julie Jordan Scott
Julie Jordan Scott has been a Life & Creativity Coach, Writer, Facilitator and Teleclass Leader since 1999. She is also an award winning Actor, Director, Artist and Mother Extraordinaire. She was twice the StoryTelling Slam champion in Bakersfield. She leads Writing Camp with JJS & this Summer will be traveling throughout the US to bring this unique, fun filled creative experience to the people wherever she finds the passion & the interest.
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