Lest we all forget…
“I am writing these words in a bar in London in the spring of 1997,” she says. “I’m drinking a glass of beer … My ability to find work allows me to pay for my drink, a small freedom, but it also gives me all the other freedoms and dignities that women before the middle of century rarely knew: to choose whom I should live with and where I can go in the evenings and how I can spend my time … I don’t think about these freedoms … Yet all these everyday transformations, as well as others – that I use contraceptives, that I work at a newspaper, that I got a degree at university, that I am paid much the same as my male colleagues, that I can vote, that I own a flat – were only brought to me after the struggle and argument of previous feminists.”
And I am writing these words from a three bedroom flat in Chicago that I share with a lesbian couple who can walk down the street holding hands in Andersonville without getting shit thrown at them. I have a Master’s Degree in history that I got at a university in South Africa of all places. I’ve literally traveled around the world. I’m engaged in a relationship with a younger man who lives in New York. We’re not married, and we have a lot of guilt-free sinful sex because I was able to get an IUD: even though I’m single (some states still won’t give you one unless you’re married). I work for a telecommunications company that pays me enough to live on and where my boss actually brings and/or buys me coffee. I have my own health insurance. I didn’t have to marry the first guy I dated/had sex with in part because I didn’t have any massive family pressure to do so. I wear guys’ clothes and nobody looks twice at me. I eat alone at restaurants and nobody asks me where or when my date’s coming. I can afford to tip well. I travel a lot. I used to take boxing lessons. I regularly lift weights at the gym. I know how to throw a good right cross.
So when people tell me what a terrible, confusing world all those 70s feminists made for me, I can’t help but look up and around at my life and realize that without all the gains our mothers made, I wouldn’t be living the life I’m living now. Nor would my female friends. And woe to all of my guy buddies who like hanging out with the smart, beer-swilling independant person that is me. Think of all my friends of both sexes would miss out on if I weren’t allowed the freedoms that feminism has given me.
That’s a scary thought.